Paleo-suckered: Worshiping the Paleolithic lifestyle that nearly led our ancestors to extinction

The word 'Paleo' written with fresh vegetables on a wooden background.

Are you a Paleo-sucker?

Paleo-suckers believe in the central conceit of modern alternative health — everything from the paleo-diet to natural parenting to herbal supplements — that human beings reached the apogee of our evolution during the Paleolithic Era. According to advocates of “natural living,” our bodies were designed for the demands of life in the Paleolithic and technology, whether modern diets, modern medicine or modern parenting, is making us sick; and returning to the Paleolithic lifestyle will make us healthy.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]We came mighty close to extinction during the Paleolithic Era only to be saved by technology.[/pullquote]

From The Paleo-Diet Revised by Loren Cordain:

When you put into practice the nutritional guidelines of the Paleo Diet, you will be getting the same protection from heart disease that the Eskimos had. You will also become lean and fit, like your ancient ancestors. This is your birthright. By going backward in time with your diet, you will actually be moving forward.

From Positive Birth Stories:

What if we knew pregnancy and giving birth was the most normal natural thing on earth and millions of women go through it without ‘complications’, fear or intervention?

What if we were reminded that our bodies are perfectly designed to give birth?

From Jennifer Grayson in HuffPo:

Of course, if prehistoric mothers had been facing problems of milk insufficiency with the global pervasiveness that exists today, it is pretty conceivable that mankind would have died out a long time ago. It’s been estimated that anywhere from 1 to 5 percent of women are physically unable to produce breast milk, which is known medically as “failed lactation.”

Nothing could be further from the truth!

The dirty little secret about our Paleolithic ancestors is that they were relatively poorly designed from an evolutionary perspective. Indeed, we came mighty close to extinction during that era and our closest hominid relatives, the Neanderthals, did become extinct. The fact that we are still here has nothing to do with our biology and everything to do with technology.

This graph illustrates the point:


As you can see, the Paleolithic era was characterized by relatively flat population growth, and though you can’t see it on this graph, there were periods of time where human evolution encountered bottlenecks. The population actually dropped as low as 50,000 individuals and possibly even as low as 10,000 breeding pairs.

The average annual growth rate was approximately 1 per 1000. In other words, a group of 1000 people would end up with 1001 people who survived to reproduce. Why did the population grow so slowly? It grew slowly because up to half of all children died before age 5, and as many as three-quarters died before reproductive age.

Paleolithic life expectancy was appallingly low: approximately 35 years. It didn’t improve very much until the mid 1800’s as this graph demonstrates:


Just about every health parameter you can name was execrable in the Paleolithic Era. Far from being the period of our greatest health success, it was a period of our greatest health vulnerabilities. Based on our health in the Paleolithic, human beings aren’t particularly evolutionarily successful at all. Our success comes from our technology. The ultimate Paleolithic hominids were the Neanderthals and they were literally driven to extinction by Homo sapiens because their prehistoric “technology” was better.

We are healthier now than we have ever been at any period in human history. There is no other period of time during the entirety of our evolution that even comes close. The key to our health has NOTHING to do with diet, NOTHING to do with supplements, NOTHING to do with breastfeeding, NOTHING to do with the quackery that masquerades under the name of alternative health.

We are healthiest now because of technology:

  • Clean water
  • Sewage systems
  • Central heating
  • The germ theory of disease
  • Cooked food
  • Modern obstetrics
  • Vaccines
  • Antibiotics
  • Surgery
  • Anesthesia

I could go on and on, but you probably get the point by now.

Why would we want to recapitulate the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors if they died in droves? Why would we want to copy childbirth in nature if it led to massive perinatal death rates? Why would we want to treat our illnesses with natural remedies if they didn’t help our ancestors at all? Why would we glory in the parenting methods of our ancestors if 3 out of 4 children didn’t survive to reproduce?

Why? Because some people are suckers. They have literally no idea what life was life in the Paleolithic and they’ll believe any nonsense fed to them if it has a pretty book cover or website. They are so desperate to feel smarter and better than others that they can’t tell the difference between stupidity and wisdom, mistaking the former for the latter.

Don’t be a Paleo-sucker. Diet, childbirth, remedies and health weren’t better in the Paleolithic Era. They were far, far worse and only a fool would believe otherwise.


863 Responses to “Paleo-suckered: Worshiping the Paleolithic lifestyle that nearly led our ancestors to extinction”

  1. December 2, 2018 at 11:19 am #

    As part of healthy and robust debate, I made two posts on my blog directly in response to this article and the comments here. In both posts, I offer a passage from Will Cole’s Ketotarian, a book I happen to be reading right now.

    Also, in both passages, I include the cited scientific references found in the author’s section of notes. This book is a good example of the high quality and heavily evidence-based approach common in the paleo community.

    I offer the following in good faith and hope that they will be received in kind.

  2. December 2, 2018 at 8:42 am #

    The early comments I received here were mostly attacking me, along with attacking all other paleo dieters and advocates, including comments from the author. This was to be expected, as the article above is undeniably an attack piece. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into and it doesn’t bother me. I have thick skin.

    There is something that interests me, though. The attacks have turned to defense, as defenders of conventional medicine take on a siege mentality. Since they couldn’t disprove evidence-based arguments nor make counter-arguments based on better evidence than was being offered, they stopped even pretending to be interested in intellectual debate. So, instead, they turn to tone and language policing. They say I’m being mean and confrontational. Sure, I am. But no more mean and confrontational than the article itself, and no more so than many other commenters going back years before I showed up. That shouldn’t stop anyone from joining in intellectual debate, I daresay. Otherwise, the entire article as an attack piece was a failure from the get go.

    Whether or not anyone here is a nice person is entirely irrelevant to the facts at hand. The nicest people in the world are wrong on a regular basis and full-on assholes are just as often right. That is because personality traits and character have little directly to do with intellectual capacity and levels of knowledge. I’ll take someone being mean and right, any day, even when they are directly being mean to me and in doing so prove that I’m wrong. I’ll take it in stride and adjust my views accordingly. That is what we should all aspire to.

    There is no reason to take any of it personally. Seeking the truth is more important than personal feelings. Obviously, the author agrees with that, at least on principle, or else she wouldn’t have written such an extremely aggressive attack piece. She apparently thought paleo advocates and dieters deserved to be attacked in defense of what she thought is the truth, and apparently many of her faithful followers have supported her attitude these past two years about attacking opponents, long before I showed up. I may disagree with the author’s claims of truth, but I would never judge her for seeking truth and defending it as she understood it. Anyone who is siding with the author or those like her aren’t in a position of judging me, without falling prey to hypocrisy.

    If truth is what really matters and I believe it does, then one should act accordingly. Conflict is a good thing in determining truth. Look at science itself. Scientific debates often get heated and sometimes ugly when there are strong opposing theories. It is through such debate that science is advanced. There is no major scientific discovery or paradigm change that didn’t come with conflict. That is the nature of science because that is the nature of humans in general in dealing with change. It’s not a defect or a sign of failure. It just is what it is. We experience conflict for the very reason that topics like these are so important, both to ourselves as individuals and to our loved ones but also more broadly to all of society. That is something worth fighting about.

    • Poogles
      January 10, 2019 at 6:40 pm #

      Do you really think anyone is going to read your 1900+ word rambling comment? JFC, brevity is obviously not your strong suit, LOL

      • January 10, 2019 at 7:20 pm #

        Read or don’t read. I don’t care. I offered a view more well informed and more interesting than anything you’ve offered. Your comments are the embodiment of brevity to the point of being empty of meaning and significance. Congratulations!

        • Who?
          January 10, 2019 at 9:36 pm #

          Well you have a pretty good opinion of yourself-both more well informed and more interesting!

          I think Poogles’ point is that prolixity is not a recommendation.

          • January 11, 2019 at 8:15 am #

            I don’t have a particularly great opinion of myself, as I’m also critical of myself in many ways. I just have a bad opinion of certain others. Then again, there are many other people I’ve met who I consider more interesting and informed than me. It depends on the person.

            In the big scheme of things, I’m somewhere in the middle, far from being a genius but of decent intelligence and curiosity. In the case of specific comments sections, though, the standard of being informed and interesting is often rather low.

          • January 11, 2019 at 8:16 am #

            Whatever Poogles’ point, my point is that I don’t give a fuck. Am I clear?

        • Poogles
          January 11, 2019 at 7:18 pm #

          “Your comments are the embodiment of brevity to the point of being empty of meaning and significance.”

          The handful you’ve seen, sure. That’s all the time and energy you’re worth.

  3. The Computer Ate My Nym
    November 30, 2018 at 7:25 am #

    Okay, folks, here’s the dirty little secret: There is no ideal diet. People have evolved different adaptations for different environmental situations. A person with lactose intolerance will not thrive on a milk heavy diet. A person with celiac disease will not do well on a diet containing (any) wheat. A person with hemochromatosis is better off on a low meat diet, a person with vWD will do poorly on the same diet. Some people’s blood pressure goes up with salt, others does not change at all. Same with cholesterol: some people’s cholesterol goes up on a high cholesterol diet, others’ doesn’t change at all. Individualize your diet to your needs and desires. As long as it’s not the “McDonalds and Twinkies only” diet, you’ll probably do reasonably well following what works for you. Also, don’t smoke. Or vape. Tobacco’s just not good for you. And get your colonoscopy at 50, even if you’re a paleo-vegan with no family history. Colon cancer’s a sneaky little shit.

    • rosewater1
      November 30, 2018 at 8:28 am #

      Years ago, I read an article in Sports Illustrated for Women (don’t bother looking for it, it’s defunct.) It was written by a female athlete-a triathlete as I remember-who discovered the McDougall Diet and spoke glowingly about how well she was doing with it. Not just in terms of her athletic performance, but her overall health. She didn’t feel deprived at all.

      What really stuck with me from the article was her saying-and I’m paraphrasing-is her saying, “I don’t tell people to eat like I do. I tell them to eat healthier. We are all a laboratory of one.”

      A specific diet may work really well for some people. Or it may not. It may need to be tailored to what works the best for that individual. It can be a struggle if you don’t have a) the time to research it, and b) the financial resources to tinker with their diet.

      I try my very best to eat all organic. It’s a struggle. It’s not cheap to do so, and I have the good fortune of being able to shop at a variety of stores and can track deals. Not everyone is so fortunate. It could be hard to sell someone on eating paleo or vegan or organic if they can buy cheap frozen food and have $$ to go to other bills.

      • December 1, 2018 at 11:28 am #

        That we are all a laboratory of one is what is often referred to as n=1 in the paleo community (where ‘n’ indicates sample size in science).

        About costs, that is why many in alternative health speak of systemic problems. Because of the failure and costs of the mainstream medicine combined with the harm of the mainstream food system, the individual is forced to try to figure out so many of their own problems.

        But all of these problems ultimately aren’t individualist, as the entire society is implicated. For example, 40% of deaths worldwide are caused by air pollution, just one small part of total pollution with pollution being one small part of environmental harm that we all experience on a daily basis, including from our diet (from farm chemicals to food additives).

        It does put many people in what feels like an impossible situation. Still, many changes that can be done to improve health are far from being expensive. One of the healthiest foods is bone broth and it is easy to make at home from any leftover bones. I just made some wonderful bone broth from the Thanskgiving turkey carcass.

        This doesn’t even necessarily require research. Traditional foods and traditional food preparation was common knowledge until recently. Just ask an older person and many of them will be able to tell you how to do something like make bone broth.

    • November 30, 2018 at 9:19 am #

      Nothing you said contradicts anything I’ve said. That perfectly fits in with the paleo diet and traditional foods. Advocates of such diets regularly point out that hunter-gatherers have a diversity of diets.

      Their point is that, within that diversity, for millions of years humans didn’t evolve to eat grains, legumes, and dairy. But within what humans have ate over the millions of years, some ate more of one thing or another — more meat or fish or more vegetables, more fat or more carbs. Still, on average, most humans even in recent past centuries, ate more meat, fat, and fiber than we do now.

      We live in an unhealthy society and so most of us have compromised health, in numerous ways. That forces us to deal with unique health conditions, often not faced by many humans in the past. This forces us to be innovative in seeking health. And we all have to make priorities, depending on what we can afford. All of this is acknowledged by many interested in alternative health and diets.

      I’m glad that you’ve admitted that you so strongly agree with paleo and paleo-related dieters. I guess that is the end of debate then. But it sure took a lot to get that out of you.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        November 30, 2018 at 9:41 am #

        Actually, it contradicts pretty much everything you said. The “paleo” diet is no miracle cure. It works well for some people, poorly for others because people have different genetic and cultural situations such that they don’t all have the same nutritional needs. For example, someone with short gut syndromes of any sort would flat out die on the diet you’re suggesting: they need simple sugars and carbohydrates that are easily digested not high fiber foods that are difficult.

        And while it’s hard to really pin down exactly how and how long people lived in the true pre-agricultural era, it’s completely certain that people did not live as long and had higher mortality in childbirth and infancy “even in recent past centuries”. Would you really care to eat what people ate in, say, 1700? Anywhere in the world?

        Finally, H sapiens as a species is not millions of years old, though I suppose you could mean beings of the genus Homo when you say that humans have eaten this or that for millions of years. Nor is there any reason to believe that there was ever a time when people didn’t get cancer and other chronic diseases. On the contrary. It’s hard to diagnose most autoimmune conditions from skeletal remains, but cancer has been found in pre-historic or pre-columbian American populations, as has tuberculosis and iron deficiency anemia (a diet based problem if there ever was one.)

        See, for example:
        (Yeah, I know, secondary source, but it gives references to multiple primary sources).

        • November 30, 2018 at 3:06 pm #

          Quote me and then quote yourself, in proving your assertion that everything I said fundamentally and completely contradicts everything you said. I triple dog dare you! LOL

          I never said that the paleo diet is a miracle cure. In fact, I’ve never come across any paleo advocate or dieter who has made such a claim. All that gets ascribed to the paleo diet is that it is a generally healthy diet that improves numerous conditions, not all conditions but many. By the way, this is the exact same basic claim made of conventional diet and nutrition. If you don’t hold the same criticism to conventional medicine, that would be inconsistent and, one might argue, hypocritical.

          Nothing you’ve said yet contradicts the paleo diet. It is well known that the modern diet and environment have altered our biological development, maybe even our gut length. Most of these changes wouldn’t be genetic but epigenetic, that is to say what determines the expression of genes and if they express how they express. So, sure, considering the changes one has to take that into consideration. This is discussed in great detail in the paleo commmunity and in many paleo books.

          Your comment here is perfectly in line with the paleo diet — for us moderns, this simply means learning what we were evolved for and then applying that knowledge to a modern context. Welcome to the paleo fold! You fit right in.

          As I keep repeating, paleo dieters aren’t attempt to re-create and reenact the past diet and lifestyle. Instead, they are trying to learn from and mimic the best aspects of that diet and lifestyle. It really is that simple. You have to realize that the caricature of paleo dieters in your head doesn’t match the reality. I’d recommend stop knocking down straw men, but each to their own. The benefit in not making people into enemies is that you might discover you have much in common, as I’ve been pointing out.

          I was speaking generally of human evolution. Of course, that involves the larger hominid evolution. We know that for millions of years that hominids were eating a similar diet. That is seen, for example, in comparing the dietary evidence of neanderthals and humans. Besides, most humans today have a variety of other hominid genetics as well, not limited to neanderthals.

          No one is arguing that no hunter-gatherers have ever experienced tough times and that they never got sick. But we know that contact with agriculturalists and/or transition to agriculture has had led to high disease and mortality rates everywhere it has been observed or where some kind of evidence was left behind. That is the simple and incontestable fact stated by paleo advocates.

          • MaineJen
            November 30, 2018 at 3:51 pm #

            What happened to “hunter gatherers did not suffer from chronic or autoimmune illnesses?”

          • November 30, 2018 at 4:46 pm #

            I never claimed that no hunter-gatherer ever suffered from any such diseases. I specifically pointed out that there are numerous conditions that alter health results, including millennia of contact with and indirect influence by agriculturalists. So are you simply pretending to be dense or are you honestly that way?

          • November 30, 2018 at 6:45 pm #

            I also don’t appreciate you putting words in my mouth by inventing a supposed quote by me. Such dishonesty in debate is what I expect from religious apologists. That is an easy way to lose credibility. The kinds of things I have said in this comments section are like this:

            “That is one of the examples of a straw man. I can’t think of any paleo advocates who claim that natural nutrition prevents or cures almost every disease. It’s simply a matter of degree. No matter how healthy a population is, individuals in that population still grow old, get sick, and die. But they simply have fewer chronic diseases and so remain in better condition into old age, another observation made by Weston A. Price.”

          • namaste
            November 30, 2018 at 7:09 pm #

            I don’t appreciate you telling me what I should and shouldn’t put in my mouth. You follow the paleo diet, good for you. I for one couldn’t care less, and my guess is most of us on this blog feel the same. It’s the evangelistic, holier-than-thou smugness surrounding it that is rubbing most of us the wrong way.

          • November 30, 2018 at 11:22 pm #

            I don’t appreciate your lack of intelligence. But we each have our own cross to bear. By the way, I never told you what you should and shouldn’t put in your mouth. But I will tell you to go suck yourself. Your idiocy and ignorance apparently is rubbing yourself the wrong way. I’m sorry you were born that way. It is sad.

          • namaste
            November 30, 2018 at 11:43 pm #

            Oh I see. Anybody can do anything they want as long as you agree with it. Gotcha. Nice attitude.

          • namaste
            December 1, 2018 at 12:04 am #

            Oh, and BTW, “You’re just stupid” isan argument that most people grow out of by age…11 or so.

          • namaste
            December 1, 2018 at 12:07 am #

            I meant “is an.” I apologize for the typo.

          • rational thinker
            December 1, 2018 at 8:50 am #

            You called out his bs perfectly. When you call them on their bs the only defense is youre stupid or youre a troll and it also explains the immaturity of some of the comments. And he says knows more about autism than I do Even though I am the sole caregiver of an autistic person for the past 14 years who is still in diapers and only partially verbal. They think no one is smarter than them it is a very cult like additude.

          • December 1, 2018 at 11:18 am #

            Have a rational debater, if you are capable. You call yourself the “rational thinker”. Yet you’ve shown few signs of rational thought. So, I’m not sure how to seek rational debate with you. All you’ve done is dismissed evidence that doesn’t fit your preconceived beliefs.

          • rational thinker
            December 1, 2018 at 2:29 pm #

            We all tried rational debate with you. You accused everyone who did not agree with you of being a troll or stupid, you even claimed you were smarter than 2 scientists who did not agree with you. No one attacked you. We all made it quite clear we don’t care what you eat, the thing we took issue with was you claimed the diet could cure ms, autism, diabetes type 1 & 2 that is what we took issue with then you claimed you were smarter than everyone else nobody called you a troll or stupid.

          • December 1, 2018 at 3:23 pm #

            You didn’t try very hard, now did you. I didn’t accuse everyone of anything. I actually had a few worthy exchanges, maybe not so much with you but with some others. That said, it is true that when I was attacked or condescended to, I responded in kind.

            As for your last claim about what you think I claimed, you are wrong and you know you are wrong, but you don’t care about being wrong as long as it serves your purposes. Nonetheless, I’ll make the simple point that you can’t find a quote where I claim a cure.

            So, if you are smarter than you’re acting, then show it.

          • December 1, 2018 at 11:17 am #

            I only call someone stupid when they are acting stupid, in this case it is largely pointing to willful ignorance and intellectual dishonesty. Calling someone stupid is giving them the benefit of the doubt that their biases are unconscious.

          • namaste
            December 1, 2018 at 11:46 am #

            Okay, maybe it has escaped your notice that nobody is criticizing your choices. However, we ARE criticizing you touting your lifestyle as superior.

          • December 1, 2018 at 12:26 pm #

            So, you perceive the act of pointing to scientific evidence as an assertion of superiority. Ya know, you could always inform yourself of the scientific evidence, formulate your own opinion, and join me in rational debate.

            Just a suggestion. Besides, I’d find that more interesting. And there is plenty of room for multiple interpretations. Dismissal of evidence is unnecessary and unhelpful.

          • December 1, 2018 at 12:44 pm #

            Okay, maybe it has escaped your noticed that the author and multiple commenters were criticizing my choices.

            The entire article was an attack piece and an ill-informed one at that. The first two responses the author gave me were along the lines of, “You’ve been paleo-suckered!”

            That was the extent of her intellectual acumen. I wasn’t touting my lifestyle as superior. But those attacking me, including the author, were accusing me of being inferior.

          • December 1, 2018 at 12:57 pm #

            I tend to treat people in kind, an eye for an eye.

            When attacked, I attack back. When condescended to, I condescend with the best of them. And when dismissed, I dismiss with joyful abandon. But when others offer friendly dialogue or rational debate, I’ll respond in the same way.

            That is how I am. So, however you would like to be treated, then treat me the same way. I promise that I will mirror back whatever you wish to offer. I’m not the one who set the tone and set the example here. That was entirely the doing of the author and her followers.

          • December 1, 2018 at 2:01 pm #

            I haven’t been following this for that long, but you might want to consider that your original post comes across as extremely preachy and condescending. We, too, have an eye-for-an-eye sort of ethos, so if everyone is attacking you, you may want to consider if you didn’t start it first?

          • December 1, 2018 at 3:28 pm #

            The article came across as extremely preachy and condescending. It is as obvious as obvious can be that it was the author’s intention to come across that way.

            I assumed that, since that was the example and tone set by the author, that is what she expected of dialogue. And she demonstrated that was the case by making comments that were an extension of her attack piece.

            I have no problem in treating others the way they treat me. But you have to be honest enough to admit that I didn’t start it. I simply played along with the author’s worldview of black-and-white enemies. But I didn’t entirely play along, as in a number of cases I refused to admit to disagreement.

            Of commenters here, I noticed no one else other than myself who attempted to find common ground. I pointed out that many of the dietary views held by other commenters were shared with paleo advocates. The idea of agreement, however, wasn’t accepted.

            So, you might want to consider looking honestly at the situation. Or not. I honestly don’t care.

          • December 1, 2018 at 3:34 pm #

            If you aren’t a hypocrite, you will lodge this exact same criticism against the author. Before any comment was written, her article went on the attack and was an expression of a mentality of conflict. If you aren’t a hypocrite, you wouldn’t be surprised that an attack piece attracts attack. Nor would you be surprised that the faithful followers of the author also prefer attack.

          • December 1, 2018 at 3:48 pm #

            You’re the one complaining about a worldview of conflict. That is apparently the worldview the author prefers. She seems to enjoy it or otherwise drawn to it, for whatever reason. If you think that is morally wrong or indicating a psychological defect, then have the courage to tell her. I don’t personally prefer conflict for the sake of conflict. But neither do I mind responding in kind to those who do prefer conflict.

            It’s all the same to me. So, I’m not really complaining about all the attacks by the author and the other commenters, not so much that as I am simply pointing it out. It is largely irrelevant, as far as I’m concerned. My loyalty is to the truth. For those who are friends to the truth, they are friends of mine. Otherwise, not so much.

            My offer of friendly discussion and rational debate remains on the table for any who wants to take up my offer. Or not. But know I’m being absolutely honest about that offer. I don’t hold grudges with random strangers on the internet. Any person here who has attacked me could change their attitude by thoughtfully engaging me instead and I’d be as happy as could be to join in.

            I’ll play whatever game anyone else here wants to play. You apparently want to play the game of self-righteous condescension, standing above the fray with your moral superiority and judgment. That is fine. You are free to play that game. I don’t mind.

          • December 1, 2018 at 4:02 pm #

            Just look around at many of my comments.

            When attacked, I attack, whether the attack came from the attack piece itself or from other commenters. But when thoughtfully engaged, I thoughtfully engaged in return. And sometimes I was the first to initiate the thoughtful engagement with a particular individual. Some of the most thoughtful comments here come from me, as well as some of the most well informed comments.

            I take pride in offering high quality views. If you think I’m an asshole, that is your opinion. But if you think I’m wrong, your opinion is irrelevant and I’d demand you defend that accusation. I’m not here to take any of this personally. I really care about the evidence itself. And I’m open to having my mind changed, as my mind has been changed many times in my life.

            I love intellectual engagement, friendly when possible but otherwise can be acceptable. If you don’t like intellectual engagement, I won’t hold it against you, as long as you don’t hold against me that I do like it.

          • December 1, 2018 at 4:30 pm #

            If you look down in the comment section, there is at least one thread of comments involving space_upstairs. We both were engaging each other more or less thoughtfully. We both made rational arguments and we both sought to understand the other side. She was one of the few people who took up my offer of dialogue, but it is evidence of my being serious about my offer. Let me give some examples of this.

            She said that, “If that is the case, even my finest and most articulate arguments will probably strike you as just being dumb and stubborn. So be it.” My response was that, “I apologize if or rather when I come across as condescending. I always try to emphasize the point that I lack credentials and expertise and that for most of my life I’ve been ignorant like most others.”

            But she didn’t think I was being condescending or no more than anyone else, certainly not the one starting it, for she wrote that, “I didn’t perceive you as being condescending per se (except to people who were condescending toward you), just extremely elaborate in your defense of Paleo principles.” She even admitted to be condescending herself, in saying that, “If I came across as condescending […] The other reason for my being condescending […]”

            Yet neither of us held that against the other. We accepted that occasional condescension, such as your own, is part of the normal human experience. We looked past that because the substance of discussion was more important. She actually wanted to engage with me about the topic at hand and there is nothing that I like more than that. So, I engaged in like mind. It really is that simple.

          • December 1, 2018 at 4:35 pm #

            I admit, though, that my patience has its limits. I sought fair-minded dialogue and engagement with many people here. But with an article that is an attack piece and a comment section filled with attacks years before I even joined in, my quest for friendly discussion and rational debate was maybe at least in part doomed from the get go, a few exceptions aside. Surely, you don’t blame me for the attack piece and attack comments written here before I showed up, right?

          • Who?
            December 1, 2018 at 3:18 am #

            I believe you have nailed Marmalade’s position.

            Both M and the other recent blow in assume that anyone who doesn’t fall into line with their position is stupid. Not very respectful, and exactly the kind of people most of us want to keep well away from.

            And for someone whose basic position is apparently ‘eat whole foods and less crap’, why it is important to label it one way or the other, and then tie it to the lifestyles of people in the distant past, is not clear.

          • December 1, 2018 at 11:16 am #

            I don’t care if you fall in line. There are many ways of interpreting evidence. Paleo and paleo-related advocates disagree about many things. But the truth matters. Those who dismiss evidence because it is inconvenient aren’t honest actors seeking honest debate. I have a problem with dishonesty. I don’t have a problem, however, with honest disagreement. There is a vast difference between the two.

          • Who?
            December 1, 2018 at 5:55 pm #

            What I’m interested in is your obsession with protecting ‘paleo’ as the name for what is a fairly loose group of eating habits.

            What harm is done by people here who don’t agree with you that the ‘fact’ that people in the distant past ate a particular way, and (according to you) either never got or effectively managed chronic conditions that many people now experience?

          • December 1, 2018 at 6:07 pm #

            I don’t particularly care about the name of ‘paleo’ itself, other than the fact that it designates a specific diet based on specific evidence-based arguments and as demonstrated in clinical and other research. By the way, it isn’t all that loose, no more loose than any other diet, including mainstream dietary recommendations.

            Quite the opposite of loose. It is called paleo for the precise reason that it seeks to learn from and mimic the healthiest qualities of what we scientifically know of paleolithic populations and similar populations among hunter-gatherers. It’s a specific explanation of scientifically how and why diet, nutrition, and lifestyle habits effect us in the way they do.

            I don’t care about disagreement based on scientific evidence. But I don’t appreciate anti-intellectual dismissal of scientific evidence in the form of willful ignorance and ideological arrogance, dogmatic groupthink and mindless appeals to authority. It’s the same reason I strongly oppose climate change denialists and religious apologists.

            Is that clear?

          • December 1, 2018 at 5:46 am #

            I have no problem with intelligent and fair-minded disagreement. But I’ve always had a problem with willful ignorance and intellectual dishonesty. The latter is what I’m seeing plenty of around here from the author and many commenters.

  4. November 29, 2018 at 3:05 pm #

    Why all the animosity toward the paleo diet? This article and the comments have made clear that most of the critics don’t even know what they’re criticizing. It’s blind lashing out, boxing with shadows, and beating on straw men.

    Many of the paleo, low-carb, and keto advocates have tried many other diets. Quite a few are former vegans and vegetarians, and among those most continue to emphasize eating lots of fruits and vegetables. There is much overlap between such diets, as the shared focus is on healthy and whole foods: organic produce, pastured butter, etc. All the kinds of things that are healthy on any diet, even a conventional diet.

    These paleo and paleo-related advocates, in many cases, remain on good terms with these other plant-based diets and those who adhere to them. I own several books about combining paleo and keto with vegetarianism, as I too used to be a vegetarian and my brothers and their families still are. I like to prepare healthy food both for myself and my family, and I’m a big fan of vegetables, sometimes known to eat a heaping bowlful for breakfast.

    The last thing in the world I want to do is to hold bad feelings toward family members simply because they have a different diet. I’m being honest as I’m able when I say I’m not an extremist. If I was living with vegetarians, I’d probably eat vegetarian, but I’d do so by adding some of the nutrient-dense foods that I learned of from the advocates of paleo and traditional foods.

    There is also plenty of healthy dialogue between the paleo and traditional foods communities. This is in spite of their disagreements about agricultural foods. It helps that they share a common interest in Weston A. Price’s work and in traditional food preparation. Also, both are inclined toward making arguments based on the best available scientific evidence, an example set by Price and certain other early researchers. Although some conflict happens between the two groups, it remains common to find them referencing each other in their writings.

    By the way, one book I’m reading right now is Ketotarian by Dr. Will Cole. He is a former vegan who found his health declining. He decided to add some animal-based foods to his diet and his health then improved. Nonetheless, he prefers to eat more vegetables. But what he found most useful was ketosis, something he probably became aware of through his functional medicine education and practice.

    That is another area of overlap. Many paleo advocates are functional medicine practitioners. But a lot more of them started their careers and remain within mainstream medicine. I can think of maybe a dozen paleo advocates who write books on the topic from the perspective of working as medical doctors, neurosurgeons, cardiologists, biochemists, nurses, nutritionists, dieticians, etc. At least two of them combine conventional medicine with functional medicine, specifically Dr. Terry Wahls and and Dr. Dale Bredesen, both having shown rare success in treating autoimmune conditions, respectably multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

    These people don’t see conflict in all of this. Instead, they are trying to bridge gaps and reach greater numbers in offering what they know. Dr. Wahls, for example, doesn’t feel any need to argue against her former vegetarianism, as she found using nutrient-dense vegetables as useful for treating the multiple sclerosis that she has and that her patients have. She has studied her dietary protocol at the mainstream research university where she works as a clinical professor and she also treats trauma at the nearby VA hospital. In this way, she combines all of her knowledge to offer the best treatment possible, combining vegetarianism and paleo diet, conventional medicine and functional medicine.

    Yet here at this blog, most of what I see is animosity and attacks. I’m more than willing to return in kind how I am treated. But I’d prefer to have rational and informed dialogue. If paleo advocates are capable of seeking understanding and common ground with those outside of the paleo community, why is it so hard for others here to do the same? What is all this hatred and fear about? What is so threatening about paleo diet that it gets turned into a bogeyman?

    • MaineJen
      November 29, 2018 at 4:17 pm #

      Eat whatever you want. Just don’t come here claiming that the paleo diet cures/reverses/halts MS, autism, or anything else. That’s where you’re getting pushback.

      • November 29, 2018 at 4:45 pm #

        Translation: Just don’t come here with reasonable and rational positions based on scientific evidence expecting a fair hearing with open and honest dialogue. Got it!

        There was no pushback. The article itself was a full-on attack, even ignoring how ill-informed it was as a rant. The commenters who then attacked me were simply following the example set by the author of this blog.

        Personally, I’d rather have dialogue. But if you’re not into that kind of thing, you are always free to not respond to people like me seeking dialogue.

        • Spamamander ctrl-alt-right-del
          November 29, 2018 at 5:04 pm #

          [citation please]

          • November 29, 2018 at 5:41 pm #

            [rational thought and meaningful comment please]

        • Who?
          November 29, 2018 at 6:34 pm #

          But really, what is the dialogue about? You’ve had good success with your health eating more whole foods and less crap. That’s great.

          To say that (for instance) we know hunter gatherers were all mostly taller than modern people, and that’s about diet; or saying that yes, lots of their kids died, but not of type 1 diabetes or contagious disease or chronic disease, but of some other random causes nothing to do with their diet, just sounds a bit feeble, frankly. How would you know, or would anyone else? Anthropologists mostly aren’t medical doctors.

          Which is my long way of saying, if eating more whole food and less crap makes people feel better, that’s a good enough reason on its own to share that information. Tying it to some far distant past is to be distracted by the sizzle, and to lose sight of the sausage.

          • November 29, 2018 at 6:57 pm #

            As I’ve said in other comments here, hunter-gatherers have been studied by scientists in diverse fields, not only anthropologists. If you want to know about it, there is vast amounts of info available online and many people discussing and analyzing that info. Look for the info or don’t. I honestly don’t care.

            You may not think the science matters all that much in making personal decisions about diet and nutrition. But I disagree. Not to say that I’m not also in favor of self-experimentation.

          • Who?
            November 29, 2018 at 8:47 pm #

            It’s not that science doesn’t matter, but I don’t understand why the study of people who lived in the distant past, in circumstances entirely unlike our own, is interesting information in relation to dietary choices today.

          • Cristina
            November 30, 2018 at 12:05 am #

            Yeah, I agree. It’s arguing about semantics. I will admit that I find it interesting to think that my ancestry makes me more susceptible to diabetes but I feel like that’s a moot point because if my ancestors’ lifestyle had to be recreated to avoid diabetes, I wouldn’t be able to work to pay my rent in today’s modern world.

          • November 30, 2018 at 9:29 am #

            Your ancestors’ entire lifestyle doesn’t need to be recreated. No paleo advocate ever claimed that. It’s simply learning from what the science tells us about how optimal health is obtained and maintained.

            For example, it’s not particular difficult or expensive to emphasize nutrient-dense foods in your diet, as they only needed to be added in small amounts to get the benefits: cultured sauerkraut, dark leafy greens, avocados, seaweed, spirulina/blue-green algae, nutritional yeast, bee pollen, pastured butter/ghee, aged cheese, seafood, cod liver oil, organ meats, bone broth, etc.

            Some of these foods are often fairly cheap, such as organ meats and nutritional yeast. You can easily make bone broth for yourself, and cultured foods can also be cheaply made at home. I’m lower working class and can afford to eat healthy because it is a priority I choose to make.

          • MaineJen
            November 30, 2018 at 11:48 am #

            Sounds great. Have fun.

          • November 30, 2018 at 12:26 pm #

            Thanks! I will and I do. And anyone else can as well, if they want to.

          • MaineJen
            November 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm #

            No thank you 🙂

          • Cristina
            November 30, 2018 at 8:13 pm #

            Why is this considered paleo?

          • November 30, 2018 at 11:19 pm #

            Because it is based on what we know from the actual paleolithic diet. Any other stupid questions?

          • Cristina
            December 1, 2018 at 4:19 am #

            Yes. Do you know what spirulina is and how they hunted it in the wild?

          • December 1, 2018 at 5:50 am #

            Yes. Do you know that paleo advocates talk about such things as spirulina all the time?

            In hunter-gatherer societies, it’s part of the gathering side of the equation. Many hunter-gatherers eat seaweed, spirulina, and other blue-green algae. Those are the type of nutrient-dense foods that are a primary focus of the paleo diet, along with those who advocate traditional foods.

            It’s funny how commenters here keep thinking that they are disagreeing with paleo dieters in their uninformed and misinformed attacks, not realizing that they actually agree with paleo dieters about so much.

          • Cristina
            December 1, 2018 at 1:03 pm #

            How did they gather it?

          • December 1, 2018 at 1:58 pm #

            My responsibility in life is not to educate you. If you want to know how hunter-gatherers gather food, there are many resources available. The scientific literature, including but not limited to anthropology, is filled with discussions of gathering practices.

            I can’t say I have specifically studied the traditional methods of gathering various kinds of blue-green algae. But I do know that tribes gathered these foodstuffs. I wouldn’t think it would be that hard skimming algae from a pond or lake, presumably a similar method to gathering seaweed.

            Since you are curious about this, why don’t you study it and learn something new. Then you can come back and share your newfound knowledge. I promise that, unlike others here in treating me, I wouldn’t simply dismiss whatever evidence you offered but would listen with careful consideration.

            However, if you’re not interested in educating yourself and, instead, you are just trolling with meaningless questions, that is of no concern to me. I don’t tend to respond to those constantly demanding info of me when they refuse to do their own work of self-education.

            That is a tactic I learned from trying to ‘debate’ Christian apologists, always demanding evidence and, when you give them evidence, they dismiss it or demand yet more. It’s an ideological game I don’t find amusing.

          • Cristina
            December 1, 2018 at 4:54 pm #

            I do admit it is idle curiosity because I’ve been to a place that mass produced (and sold) spirulina. I’ve been asking questions to tease out what feels so off about the paleo diet and I might have figured it out. Incidentally, it agrees with the post above.

            The paleo diet, as you’ve said, is basically just nutrient dense food. I’ve never looked into it before so that is interesting. This food was apparently eaten by our ancestors, according to various reports that you’ve outlined before. I’m not arguing that.

            I don’t think anyone is arguing about the benefits of eating it. We’re actually benefitting from it now because we have access to it *all* of those different kinds of nutrient dense foods now. Spirulina was originally found in warmer climate areas but now it can be cultivated in tanks and shipped to areas of the world where it wouldn’t have been found before.

            And that’s the crux of the argument that is getting missed. *I* can consume spirulina because of technology (I’m Canadian, btw). The technology is available to feed a massive population now so we don’t have to spend all of our days hunting and gathering, just buy some supplements and fresh fruit and veggies, which are also available thanks to the lovely farmers in warmer climates, probably in the States and Mexico. My grandmother and her daughters *had* to can fruits and vegetables all fall in order to be able to eat (and feed her other 5 kids) all winter. I don’t have to and choose not to because I can afford to just buy it as needed.

            You’ve even said that we don’t need to live the lifestyle, just eat the right food.

            Also, I’ve mentioned the First Nations. I’m a transcriptionist and I’ve transcribed interviews from elders in a nearby band about their traditional land use and that was incredibly fascinating. But even their children are choosing not to live that lifestyle either. They would rather work at KFC and make minimum wage instead of picking berries all day or working on the gill nets on the lake or hunting for game. Because working at KFC is easier.

            So, really, we’re reaping the benefits the paleo people never had. We can have our pumpkin spice lattes and eat our spirulina and text about how much better life would have been in the good old days, without thinking that the paleo people didn’t have it either. I can buy aspirin, I don’t have to make my own. I have access to antibiotics that are proven to work, I don’t have to hope that the gash on my leg doesn’t turn septic. My babies have the benefits of being born in a hospital with a NICU team, if needed, to survive their early days. I have access to formula so I can feed them, instead of hoping that one of my family members or close friends will help me out in the early days. I have clean, fresh water.

            So, no, the paleo diet doesn’t conflict with any of that because everyone advocates a healthy diet and exercise. Paleo, itself, is just marketed product with books and supplements meant to make the user feel better about their choices and continue to choose *their* product. Just like how Weight Watchers wants you to buy *their* bread and snacks.

          • December 1, 2018 at 8:13 pm #

            @Cristina – Your comment disappeared or you deleted it while I was writing my response. I’m going to add it as a response to this comment of yours instead.

            “The paleo diet, as you’ve said, is basically just nutrient dense food. I’ve never looked into it before so that is interesting. This food was apparently eaten by our ancestors, according to various reports that you’ve outlined before. I’m not arguing that.”

            You are missing the larger context, though. Even nutrient-density is just one part of the paleo diet and lifestyle. There is the optimal ratio of vegetables and fruits to animal foods, of meat to fat, and of fiber as part of the total diet. There is also the nexus of low-carb, carb cycling, eating time frame, intermittent fasting, ketosis, etc. Then there is the whole area of gut health and microbiome, permeability of intestine and brain, inflammation and autoimmune disorders, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. It’s a whole package really, as the systemic view of functional medicine has come to strongly influence the paleo view.

            “You’ve even said that we don’t need to live the lifestyle, just eat the right food.”

            If I said something along those lines, I was speaking in practical terms. Any little bit helps. But it ultimately is self-defeating if you improve one part of your health while the rest of your life is slowly killing you. Not that we can always solve every problem.

            For example, if you are poor in a highly toxic neighborhood, you might not be able to personally afford having your water filtered and the lead paint removed from your home. But you could use community organizing to help deal with some of these problems, such as fighting politicians trying to place a toxic dump in your community. Or if things get bad enough, maybe you’d be wise to move to a healthier place. A less optimal living situation might be better than knowing your kids are being slowly poisoned.

            “I do admit it is idle curiosity because I’ve been to a place that mass produced (and sold) spirulina. I’ve been asking questions to tease out what feels so off about the paleo diet and I might have figured it out. Incidentally, it agrees with the post above.”

            I get so many people demanding answers and evidence, as if I personally owe them something. Many of them are not acting in good faith, in that they don’t hold the same standards to themselves. It’s made me grow suspect toward people throwing questions at me, in particular questions that could be answered by a web search, often with little requirement of effort or time.

            It sounds like your curiosity is more than merely idle. It comes off as genuine. So, I apologize for apparently having read your intentions incorrectly or rather not feeling generous in my interpretation. You seem to be different. And your line of inquiry is perfectly valid. I wonder about that kind of thing. Many paleo dietiers and similar people, such as in traditional foods, wonder about it as well. It’s a tough thing to suss out because, the fact of the matter, is we no longer live in the paleolithic era or anything akin to it. We don’t even live in the world that existed a century ago. Most of us can barely imagine the childhood of our grandparents.

            Yet we have the same basic genetics, biology, and digestive tract as paleolithic people. The same type of things that made hominids health millions of years ago still makes us healthy: exercise, low chronic stress, fresh air, clean water, pastured meat and fat, organic vegetables and fruits, lots of fiber, a diverse microbiome, strong bonding with family and community, low inequality, lots of time spent in nature, and on and on. Those are the conditions we evolved in.

            That creates a dilemma that is difficult to resolve. Paleo advocates are simply trying to find a way to mimic the best qualities under imperfect conditions. We are dealing with, for example, levels of stress and toxins that humans were never evolved to handle. It’s unsurprising that rates of mental and physical diseases are skyrocketing. But to make matters worse, our entire society is not set up to help us deal with any of this. That is why we are thrown back on individual responsibility, as unfair as that is. We live in a hyper-individualistic and hyper-competitive social Darwinian society, and that is just the way it is.

            On the other hand, there are great advantages to modern life and it holds out great promise. Few people, not even paleo advocates, want to return to the past. Rather, what most want is a better life in the here and now with the way the world is. That is where the paleo diet and lifestyle offers some help, in that any small part of it can bring improvement to one’s health. For me, switching to ketosis with intermittent fasting alone made a massive difference in mood and energy, cravings and weight loss. There are many people who use the ketogenic diet completely separate from the larger paleo diet, as the ketogenic diet has been used effectively in mainstream medicine for about a century.

            “So, really, we’re reaping the benefits the paleo people never had. We can have our pumpkin spice lattes and eat our spirulina and text about how much better life would have been in the good old days, without thinking that the paleo people didn’t have it either. I can buy aspirin, I don’t have to make my own. I have access to antibiotics that are proven to work, I don’t have to hope that the gash on my leg doesn’t turn septic. My babies have the benefits of being born in a hospital with a NICU team, if needed, to survive their early days. I have access to formula so I can feed them, instead of hoping that one of my family members or close friends will help me out in the early days. I have clean, fresh water.”

            Context matters, once again. From a paleo perspective, there are many problems and complicating factors involved here. Aspirin can cause major health problems when used regularly because it is harmful to your microbiome and gut health. Antibiotics are being overused and so creating superbugs, whereas the hygiene hypothesis points to scientific research that shows being in contact with dirt and germs is good for your long term health.

            Women had fewer birth difficulties and risks prior to agriculture, as numerous studies have shown (I linked to a bunch of evidence in another comment around here). It is true that babies are less likely to die in infancy now because of modern healthcare, but then again many of the infectious diseases hunter-gatherers died of were introduced and spread by contact or living in proximity of agriculturalists (e.g., malaria might have been a disease than first appeared among farmers before spreading into the wild mosquito population). Breastfeeding is a different kind of issue and formula doesn’t come close to the nutrient and microbial profile of breast milk, nor does a bottle offer the psychological factors of healthy development in bonding.

            Last but not least, hunter-gatherers had greater access to clean, fresh water than we do now. That is a given.

            Trying to take all of that into consideration under modern conditions is no easy task. We each must figure out what matters most and where we can have the greatest impact. No one will prioritize in the same way. If you add spirulina to your pumpkin spice latte, it won’t undo the damage many people experience from a high carb-and-sugar diet, but it will give your body some of the nutrients it needs — that is better than nothing. That is better than nothing. And small changes can lead to larger changes, once you begin to feel improvements. It took me decades of self-experimentation to get to the point where I am now, and it wasn’t always easy. Was it worth it? Damn skippy!

            “So, no, the paleo diet doesn’t conflict with any of that because everyone advocates a healthy diet and exercise. Paleo, itself, is just marketed product with books and supplements meant to make the user feel better about their choices and continue to choose *their* product. Just like how Weight Watchers wants you to buy *their* bread and snacks.”

            Anything that gets popularized will get marketed in a capitalist society. That is more true of official dietary regulations than any other diet. The entire food system was redesigned to fit the government intervention in dietary choices, a mass experiment done on the entire population. You can now buy all kinds of truly unhealthy junk food that is low fat, high fiber, or whatever else the government tells you is good for you. Often, conventional doctors themselves are recommending this food. Most of it isn’t actually healthy, though. But that doesn’t stop the massive profits from rolling in.

            Most paleo advocates advise against processed foods, including processed foods labeled as ‘paleo’. There simply is no point in buying such things. But there is no one to stop capitalists from trying to make a buck. It just has little to do with the paleo community itself, for the most part. If you don’t like the way capitalists take advantage of people, that is a whole other debate we could have.

          • Box of Salt
            December 1, 2018 at 9:28 pm #

            Hi Marmalade!

            Would you think I’m attacking you if I ask you to go preach somewhere else?

            You are using this blog pot from 2 years ago to promote your own ideas about a lot of different things, even though you are aware that many of the readers here disagree with you.

            May I suggest starting your own blog?

          • December 1, 2018 at 9:41 pm #

            I don’t care what you say. You can go preach somewhere else if you want. I’m just here to speak the truth as I know it. Nothing more and nothing less.

            But I also like listening to others who are worth listening to, that is when the truth they speak as they know is interesting and insightful or simply relevant. And when someone is an honest actor making a compelling case, I like to be able to learn something new and maybe change my mind.

            That is what I’m about. I’m here to engage. If you don’t want to engage, you are free to go elsewhere or remain silent.

          • Box of Salt
            December 1, 2018 at 10:20 pm #

            If you really are here to engage, Marmalade, you need to ask yourself:

            What if some of my assumptions, based on what I’ve read, are wrong?

            And ask yourself:

            Might that be why I find the commenters here hostile?

            The truth as I understand it is that your ability to “engage” only is only going one way.

          • December 1, 2018 at 10:31 pm #

            I ask myself that kind of thing all the time. Do you? That is why I care so much about evidence-based arguments. If your views aren’t based on good evidence, then you can’t change your views as the evidence changes. That is the danger you face in being so indifferent and dismissive of evidence that disagrees with your beliefs.

          • Box of Salt
            December 1, 2018 at 11:00 pm #

            Marmalade, there is some irony in your comment “If your views aren’t based on good evidence, then you can’t change your views as the evidence changes.”

            I understand if you don’t see that.

            You have no reason to suggest I am indifferent and dismissive. You don’t know what information I had before reading your commentary here. You seem to find the works of Weston A. Price compelling; I do not.

            You have presented some information I have found interesting. Yet, when other commenters questioned your interpretation of some of it, your response (generally speaking) was to accuse them of not arguing honestly rather than addressing their criticisms.

            I am open to changing my views. But you need to accept the fact that you have not provided the evidence I need to change my views on your favorite diet.

            But the bottom line here is I’m not the one using someone else’s blog to promote my point of view.

          • December 2, 2018 at 5:49 am #

            I know how you’ve acted in this discussion. It’s possible that in secret you are a different kind of person. But most likely you are the same kind of person in the rest of your life as you are on the internet.

          • Box of Salt
            December 2, 2018 at 7:25 am #

            Marmalade, “It’s possible that in secret you are a different kind of person.”

            Yes. I am Batman.

          • December 2, 2018 at 7:34 am #

            Obviously, in secret you aren’t a genius. I might be willing to accept that you are Batman or someone like that — a comfortably wealthy guy with too much time on your hands, a personal butler to do all your work for you, and a scientist employee to do all the intelligent thinking for you. But I’d think that even Batman would be more impressive and interesting than you in an online comments section.

          • December 2, 2018 at 6:06 am #

            “You have presented some information I have found interesting. ”

            If you had acted as if you were interested in new info, and if the author and other commenters had acted in the same way, every single comment of mine would have been different. When interest is expressed, I respond with interest. But that apparently isn’t what you and others here wanted, for whatever reason.

            “I am open to changing my views. But you need to accept the fact that you have not provided the evidence I need to change my views on your favorite diet.”

            You can claim that. But you haven’t yet demonstrated the capacity to change your mind. I’ve offered more evidence in defense of my views than you have, than any other commenter has, and that the author has. The truth remains the truth no matter where it is spoken, here or elsewhere.

          • Box of Salt
            December 2, 2018 at 7:21 am #


            I made no claims. I said I did not find your claims compelling.

            I also suggested you get your own blog to promote your views.

            Why does that suggestion need evidence?

          • December 2, 2018 at 7:31 am #

            It doesn’t matter what you think of my claims. What does matter is the evidence. If you can’t disprove the evidence and you lack any other evidence, no debate is happening.

            I also suggested that, if you aren’t interested in fair and open and honest debate, you are free to go elsewhere or remain silent.

            Of course, your views free of all evidence, as they are dogmatic beliefs, don’t require evidence. Sure, that is true, though irrelevant to my mind. I have no interest in your pointless views as such, whether presented as suggestions or otherwise.

          • Box of Salt
            December 2, 2018 at 7:36 am #

            Hi Marmalade!
            “you are free to go elsewhere or remain silent.”

            Isn’t that what I asked you to do?

          • December 2, 2018 at 7:53 am #

            And isn’t that is what I asked you to do? But apparently we both have free will, live in a free society, and so are free to do what we want. Pretty fascinating, huh?

          • December 2, 2018 at 8:12 am #

            You sound like a whiny child: “You were mean to me and hurt my feelings and you won’t go away just because I told you to. Life is not fair! Wahhh!” Okay, message received. LOL

          • December 2, 2018 at 6:57 am #

            If you have genuine interest, then why not express that interest? You could have simply shown what you were interested in and then we could have spent this whole time discussing interesting things. That would have been more interesting.

          • Who?
            December 2, 2018 at 1:43 am #

            So you here to engage, and to speak the truth as you know it.

            Those are two different things.

            Telling people they are stupid or dishonest is ‘speaking the truth as you know it’ and is the exact opposite of engaging them.

          • December 2, 2018 at 5:47 am #

            When people act stupid or dishonest, I’ll speak the truth about it. I’d expect the exact same thing from others. I seek engagement, but I can only engage those who want to engage. People who act stupid or dishonest are acting in opposition to engagement.

          • Who?
            December 2, 2018 at 6:12 am #

            ‘When I think people act stupid or dishonest’

            Fixed that for you.

            You lack sufficient self awareness (or is it humility) to see the difference.

          • December 2, 2018 at 6:39 am #

            No. I take people as they present themselves.

            As I’ve said, it’s always possible that someone is different than how they present themselves. But I can’t spend my time trying to discern the true nature of people online. So, I take people as they act and, until proven otherwise, assume that is essentially the way they are.

            I might be occasionally wrong in my assessment, in that people online aren’t always directly honest and forthright. Still, I can’t be blamed for that.

          • December 2, 2018 at 6:54 am #

            For example, it is theoretically possible that the author in writing this piece was intending to express as much integrity, intelligence, and insight as possible. But anyone reading what she actually wrote is forced to conclude that it is an attack piece.

            Nonetheless, it’s possible that wasn’t her intention in her heart of hearts and that in real life she is a kind and caring person who always listens to others, tries to understand different views, and remains open to new ideas. So, sure that is possible, but all considering it seems unlikely given the evidence we have to go by.

            It’s fair to take the author as she presents herself and it is obvious how she is presenting herself, whether or not she is a bad communicator about her most genuine inner motivations. Even so, I remain open to the author showing another side to herself and, if she did, I would gladly respond differently.

            The same goes for you. If you showed actual interest, rather than merely asserting you have interest, I’d respond to that expressed interest. But how am I supposed to respond to claims of interest that don’t match your actual comments that have yet to show interest?

            I’ve already demonstrated my willingness on multiple occasions in this comments section. In particular, I enjoyed my dialogue with space_upstairs. She never asserted she had interest, but did show her interest in her also having willingness to engage. So, we had a long interaction where, despite disagreeing, we both listened to the other.

            That is all I expect from others. I don’t think that is too much to ask for.

          • December 2, 2018 at 7:19 am #

            There was a point I meant to make about space_upstairs. There was a reason we related well with another. Both of us spoke sincerely and directly, combined with a willingness to listen and understand.

            She isn’t as well informed as I am. But she had the honesty to admit that she isn’t as well informed. She had no pretenses to defend and no ideological dogmatism to uphold. And even though not as knowledgeable as she could have been, her honesty went a long way and she simply was straightforward about not being motivated to spend the time in learning more about the subject.

            That is far from saying she is stupid. The complete opposite, at least she came across as reasonably intelligent and so I took her comments in that light. This simply wasn’t a topic that was of personal interest for her, not to any great extent. She wasn’t going to pretend to have greater interest, but what interest she did have she expressed in an undeniable way. If she had no interest at all, she wouldn’t have been willing to engage in dialogue.

            Now, there is a person I can respect. It doesn’t mean neither of us wasn’t blunt with the other. We both were rather blunt and even condescending. I’ve admitted that I can be condescending, but she directly stated that, as she saw it, I’m only condescending to those who are first condescending to me. She also admitted to her being condescending toward me and so wasn’t pretending to be superior and above it all.

            It was a breath of fresh air talking with her.

          • December 2, 2018 at 7:27 am #

            Thoughtful and intelligent disagreement is possible, as proven in the dialogue that space_upstairs and I shared. It also demonstrated how both of us treated each other in kind, considering we apparently shared some basic level of values about how to dialogue. We didn’t feel a need to take each other’s bluntness personally and let it get in the way of honest and fair engagement.

            The exact same kind of dialogue could develop between us, if you allowed it. The moment you show genuine interest, instead of only declaring you have interest, the entire mood of this interaction will change. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t hold grudges with random online strangers. I’m always ready for worthy dialogue, no matter who it is.

          • Box of Salt
            December 1, 2018 at 9:58 pm #

            ^typo correction. “blog POST” not pot!

          • December 1, 2018 at 6:53 am #

            It is interesting that you bring up spirulina. I was just thinking about it this week. It came up in a book I was reading, maybe Ketotarian by Will Cole, although there was another book I was also looking at. But in general, my mind has been on nutrient-dense foods lately. It’s something I came across in the first paleo writings I read.

            About a month ago, Sarah Ballantyne (a very science-oriented and non-dogmatic paleo advocate) contemplated that maybe more than anything else it is nutrient-density that matters the most, not only for the paleo diet but any healthy diet. Maybe more important than worrying about industrial toxins, anti-nutrients, fiber intake, macronutrient ratios, etc — all the various things that can effect your health.

            That said, nutrient-density has been on my radar for at least a couple of decades now. I might’ve first come across this way of thinking with Sally Fallon Morrell (just Sally Fallon at the time), from her widely read book Nourishing Traditions. That was also my introduction to the work of Weston A. Price, the main inspiration for understanding the importance of nutrient-dense foods, specifically the fat soluble vitamins (he discovered vitamin K, which at the time he called activator X because of its importance).

            So, I knew about nutrient-dense foods like spirulina. And I was adding them to my diet long before I heard about the paleo diet. But in my own experience, it wasn’t until nutrient-dense foods were combined with other elements of the paleo diet that I saw clearly positive results in terms of mood, energy, cravings, and weight loss. Prior to that, I wasn’t effectively dealing with the underlying problems and so nutrient-dense foods were limited in their benefit.

            Paleo writers also helped me better understand the science behind it all, in explaining why it all matters. Learning about the scientific research that has been accumulating made it much more compelling. In recent years, I felt myself struggling with my health and not feeling clear what the best options were. I came to realize, in reading about the paleo diet, that I needed to emphasize nutrient-density to a far greater degree.

            The first author that really got me thinking along these lines is Dr. Terry Wahls, a conventional doctor, who effectively treated her own multiple sclerosis and reversed the symptoms (she went from not being able to walk to being able to walk again, a near miracle according to conventional medicine). Dr. Wahls did this with a version of the paleo diet that she developed to prioritize nutrient-dense foods, much of it from specific categories of vegetables, but such things as organ meats are also important.

            I feel so much better these days. Back when I was diagnosed with depression after high school, all that doctors offered me was medications. They didn’t work and recent meta-analysis shows that antidepressants don’t work for most people. There was little to no understanding of diet and nutrition. Recent studies of doctors show that they still are largely ignorant of diet and nutrition. It’s sad because so many people could be helped with quite simple changes. But as this comments section demonstrates, so many people are resistant to change when involves new thinking.

          • Who?
            December 2, 2018 at 1:20 am #

            So that’s a qualified yes, and a no, to Christina’s question.

          • December 2, 2018 at 5:51 am #

            I tend to be qualified in everything I say. That is because any informed and honest person has no choice but to speak in qualifications. Only a dogmatic ideologue, such as the author of the article, doesn’t bother with qualifications.

          • Who?
            December 2, 2018 at 6:15 am #

            No, you don’t.

            You hedge, so you can’t be ‘accused’ of anything.

            My point-too subtle, obviously-was that you are prolix and a little dull.

          • December 2, 2018 at 6:35 am #

            I don’t hedge whatsoever. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. If there is any complaint about me, it’s that I’m too blunt in my honesty. You may disagree with me, but at the very least you always know where I stand and you always know the reasons and evidence for my views.

            Also, you can always trust I will take seriously any genuine dialogue. I have yet to ignore or dismiss any view presented to me where the person bothered to justify their position based on scientific evidence. I’m a simple person in my own way, as my principles are simple.

          • November 30, 2018 at 9:21 am #

            Our bodies, our genetics, etc are basically the same. What made a paleolithic human healthy, what makes a hunter-gatherer healthy is essentially the same as what makes us healthy. That is what we know from scientific research. Full stop.

      • November 29, 2018 at 5:39 pm #

        Apparently all new info is not allowed on this blog. All heretical thought must be banished from the minds of the faithful. In commenting here, I didn’t realize that I was transgressing on the inner sanctum of an ideological cult. My bad.

  5. Amazed
    November 28, 2018 at 7:23 am #

    OK, someone tell me that I’m having problems with my vision because what I see is a poster returning to reply to people who interacted with them two YEARS after the last exchange and a new devotee to the paleo cult rushing to a site that isn’t even about diets to spill their prejudiced “science” and push their “paleo” diet (again, why is it named paleo if not to convince people that they can take back the romantics of good old days that, in fact, never existed?) onto people who aren’t interested.

    What the hell?

    • space_upstairs
      November 28, 2018 at 7:49 am #

      Flamebait is like herpes and chickenpox. It never dies, it merely lies dormant. And the new devotee, for what it’s worth, claims not to be pushing the diet but defending it from attack…albeit an attack that’s still 2 years old, and part of a systemic counterattack against pushing “natural” health gimmicks on mothers and children with overblown claims.

      • November 29, 2018 at 1:05 pm #

        Says the person who openly admitted she doesn’t care about knowledge on this topic. But that she just wanted to find a blog that told her she no longer had to think and worry about it.

    • MaineJen
      November 28, 2018 at 11:28 am #

      Oh, to have the unbounded confidence and self righteousness of a newly converted zealot.

    • Heidi
      November 28, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

      I suppose this Paleo symposium must not reconvene until after the holidays and he’s just bursting with bullshit.

      • Amazed
        November 29, 2018 at 9:02 am #

        How can you say such a thing! Marlamalade is no extremist! They say so! They only recommend a diet that would have killed my brother at the age of 7 since literally everything he was allowed to eat was evil agriculture in its most processed form. (I mean, cutting the seeds off a cucumber WAS processing it, as well as peeling an apple.) But I suppose it’s all right with them since his ailment was a man-made one. (He was the first of a string of children in our city to have acute pancreatitis which normally doesn’t happen to children. They were all born around Chernobyl – he was exclusively breasfed as well. Would my mum have it that he was exclusively formula fed? You can bet.)

    • November 29, 2018 at 1:03 pm #

      Of course, you could always engage in open and honest debate by offering an informed and intelligent comment. Just a suggestion.

      I’ve always highly valued intellectual honesty and humility, not to mention curiosity and a love of learning. I valued those things my entire life, long before I knew anything about the paleo diet. Those same values apply to all aspects of my life and to all topics I’m interested in.

      I personally see that as a good thing. But I realize some prefer anti-intellectualism. So be it.

      • Amazed
        November 29, 2018 at 5:22 pm #

        I only engage in debate with people who debate back, not devotees of a cult. I just make it a principle. And you are a devotee of a cult. Let’s see: you’ve gorged on a steady diet of literature isolated from the main field of nutrition AND treatment of diseases and you’re coming here calling everyone else anti-intellectual? You might be, in your own eyes. In the eyes of everyone else, digging old posts to preach only makes you look cultish.

        • November 29, 2018 at 5:46 pm #

          I’ve offered more scientific evidence in my comments than probably any other commenter here, more than even in the article itself. So, if scientific evidence is what you mean by a cult, then we have a very different notion of what cult-like thinking looks like.

          By the way, most of the evidence I cited in my comments come from mainstream sources and respectable journals. My comments have mostly been about science in general. It’s simply the same research you’d find in any scientific publication or writing, assuming you are the kind of person who actually cares more about science than mere ideology.

          In response, I’ve yet to get a single science-based comment challenging any of the scientific evidence I cited. Mostly, I’ve seen lots of attacking, asserting, speculating, and opinionating. More power to you, I guess.

      • MaineJen
        January 12, 2019 at 12:45 pm #

        Man, you love to hear yourself talk.

        • January 12, 2019 at 1:23 pm #

          People like you sure like to talk by responding, even when nothing is directed at you. Most of my comments so far have been in response to other people. Then others respond to me.

          In the real world, we might call this dialogue or conversation or even argument.

          If the vast majority of humans didn’t like to talk, no one would have invented language and writing. We are a species prone to communicating. It’s amazing! Almost shocking, daresay!

        • rational thinker
          January 13, 2019 at 8:36 am #

          yeah he does

  6. JuHoansi
    September 14, 2016 at 2:55 am #

    What utter pseudo scientific quackery. It sounds like Amy is a Civil Sucker.

    When agriculture, domestication and civilization began, human health actually deteriorated from Paleolithic levels. Human stature, robustness and longevity decreased. It’s only in the last 200 years that we’ve seen any gains in measurable health parameters. And now we see epidemic levels of cancer, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, obesity, allergies, alzheimers, superbugs, polluted water and antibiotic resistance. Medical errors and treatment are now the third leading cause of death in the US.

    You are right about one thing Amy, it has everything to do with technology.

    Don’t be a Civil Sucker.

    • Irène Delse
      September 14, 2016 at 5:00 am #

      “Civil sucker”? You certainly are a rude one!

      You have some facts right: at the beginning of agriculture, at least in some places, nutrition did deteriorate, because humans hadn’t yet developed efficient varieties of crops. The ones their descendants would go on to use to build civilisations.

      But you are making a dangerous assumption: that because agriculture brought on a new set of health problems (like tooth decay and reduced stature, because of diet rich in starch but low in protein), we should conclude that it was less adaptive than the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. But you can only jump to that conclusion if you cherry-pick the data.

      First, we actually don’t have that much data on ancient hunter-gatherers. The statistics often quoted about the time spent actually hunting all come from modern hunter-gatherers, some of whom live in very specific environments, often semi-desertic (like the Hadza that you mention above, or the San of the Kalahari until recently). We just can’t extrapolate to temperate regions ten thousand years ago.

      Second, there’s actually not that many full-time hunter-gatherer peoples today, or even in historic times. Have you noticed that this lifestyle can’t support a large population? Every place where even marginal agriculture and/or pastoralism is possible, you find peoples who hunt and herd, who gather and plant. The Amazon rainforest is now well known to have been the birthplace of a sophisticated garden forest economy. In Papua New Guinea, one of the few places where agriculture independently arose, people lived in the “stone age”until the 20th century, using a mix of hunting, gathering, raising pigs and gardening. The Sami people of Finland are know for their domestication of reindeer, but their traditional lifestyle included also hunting and fishing. And so on.

      For prehistoric peoples, we know their resources were more varied than just hunting. Gathering meant also using whatever source of calories they could, and that meant also starchy parts of plants: rhizomes, tubercles, roots… We can still eat wild carrots if we want to, though their root is thin and white compared to cultivated ones! But palaeolithic Europeans made use of such sources of nutrition, as the traces of cooked starch on 60,000 year old stone tools have proved.

      • JuHoansi
        November 17, 2018 at 3:17 am #

        So ‘Paleo sucker’ is not rude, but ‘civil sucker’ is?

        “First, we actually don’t have that much data on ancient hunter-gatherers”

        We have enough data to know that health and general robustness deteriorated following the adoption of agriculture. This is no longer in any dispute.

        “The statistics often quoted about the time spent actually hunting all come from modern hunter-gatherers”

        No they don’t, they come from examining bones and skeletons from pre-agricultural and post-agricultural timelines, mortuary sites, middens, teeth, and more recently, DNA analysis.

        “Have you noticed that this lifestyle can’t support a large population?”

        What does a large population have to do with a healthy population? These are not the same things.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          November 25, 2018 at 11:40 pm #

          We have enough data to know that health and general robustness deteriorated following the adoption of agriculture.

          Excellent! Then you’ll find it no problem at all to provide a reference or two supporting this claim. If it’s not in dispute, there must be a substantial literature on it. A review paper would be fine, as long as the source is reputable and peer reviewed.

          • November 26, 2018 at 7:09 am #

            Can we specify that it be a systematic review or meta-analysis? “Narrative” reviews can be awfully biased, cherry-picking the papers that support their position and ignoring the others.

    • Nick Sanders
      September 14, 2016 at 11:53 am #

      In my case, life expectancy certainly is health, since I would have died at 4 without modern technology. I mean, I guess I could say that the first three years of my life were also the happiest? But really, I’m still having a pretty good time, and I’m damn glad to not be dead.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      September 14, 2016 at 11:00 pm #

      “Civil sucker”? What’s a…never mind, I went there. Ahem.

      I’ll agree with “longer, but in what way are our lives now “more miserable” than at any other time in history? 200 years ago I would have died in horrible pain in childbirth, assuming I managed to dodge death from childhood illness and dying of abuse because my asperger’s made me unable to follow the adults’ rules well enough to avoid being beaten continually. And assuming my mixed ethnicity didn’t make me persona non grata with all my potential tribes. I’ll take my chances with cancer and diabetes, compared to that. Incidentally, the age adjusted incidence and mortality of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimers are decreasing. Not sure what’s with diabetes, obesity, and allergies at the moment. Superbugs are actually not a new problem, as anyone who has studied the immune system can attest. We’ve been in this arms race since the paleo era and before. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death because other causes are evaporating.

      • JuHoansi
        November 17, 2018 at 3:07 am #

        Lol…”200 years ago I would have died in horrible pain in childbirth” Yeah, I’m sure the not fully developed pain receptors and nerve endings of a neonate would have caused you to fully experience “horrible pain” comparable to an adolescent or adult.
        But don’t worry, chances are you’ll die in horrible pain from cancer (or one of its many treatments).

        “Incidentally, the age adjusted incidence and mortality of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimers are decreasing”


        “Superbugs are actually not a new problem,”

        Um, yes they are. That’s why they are called ‘superbugs’, because they have evolved to resist modern medicine. Hence ‘new’.

        “Medical errors are the third leading cause of death because other causes are evaporating.”

        Lol…no, it’s because medical errors are becoming more numerous. I’m sure heart disease and cancer will be 1 and 2 for a while yet.

        • Daleth
          November 24, 2018 at 1:06 pm #

          >Yeah, I’m sure the not fully developed pain receptors and nerve endings of a neonate would have caused you to fully experience “horrible pain” comparable to an adolescent or adult.

          I don’t think you understood. TCAMN is talking about dying while giving birth, in horrible pain because labor is horribly painful. Did you for some reason assume she was male? Interesting.

          • JuHoansi
            November 24, 2018 at 1:19 pm #

            I didn’t assume either gender, why?

          • Daleth
            November 25, 2018 at 11:11 am #

            You clearly assumed male. When she posted about dying in labor “in horrible pain,” you “LOL’d” and commented that newborn babies don’t have fully developed pain receptors, so she would not have been in horrible pain. If you hadn’t been assuming she was male, you would’ve realized she meant labor pain.

          • JuHoansi
            November 25, 2018 at 1:49 pm #

            Douche, if I assumed anything, it was perhaps that the commenter was talking about BEING A CHILD dying in childbirth. This may have been incorrect, but I did not assume their gender. Children can be either boys or girls, right?

            You obviously have no interest in addressing the topic and have too much time on your hands nitpicking about trivial bullshit, while accusing others of making assumptions about things you yourself assume them to be making.

          • rational thinker
            November 25, 2018 at 3:43 pm #

            Calling people douche who try to present you with facts to help you understand something demonstrates how immature you are and no one is going to take anything you say seriously.

          • JuHoansi
            November 25, 2018 at 6:24 pm #

            I only call people ‘douche’ who are actually douches. You weren’t trying to to present me with facts, you were being a troll, just like you are now.

          • Who?
            November 25, 2018 at 8:31 pm #

            Yes, yes, you’re always right: about why paleo is extra specially good-when it’s really just another restriction diet, all of which ‘work’ ie help people lose weight by cutting out food groups.

            And of course you thought TCAMN meant dying as a baby, not as a woman giving birth. And can’t see why anyone would interpret what you wrote in any other way. Of course. Can I say, if I have the choice between dying in my 20s giving birth, or in my 70’s (or even my 40s) from cancer, I’ll take the cancer, thanks. Why? Live longer, be around for the baby/child/adult/grandkids longer, just for a start.

            And what is with ‘douche’ as an insult? I understand that a ‘douche’ in the US is a product which I understand is used for washing out vaginas? Or are you going to come over all insulted now and say you thought it was french for ‘shower’, and how dare I give you the vapours by suggesting anything else.

            Top tip-people who don’t agree with you aren’t trolls. But thanks for reviving a two year old post, I’m sure Dr T is grateful for the traffic.

          • November 26, 2018 at 10:24 am #

            What gets ignored in these ill-informed debates is that hunter-gatherers have low rates of birth-related problems. Infants might die of infectious diseases. But mothers rarely die in giving birth. It was an agricultural diet that led to many of our present birth-related health risks.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 27, 2018 at 10:13 pm #

            What’s your evidence for that claim? The links that JuHoansi provided in support of the health of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle talked about infant mortality rates of 20% or more. True, they didn’t say what was killing the infants, so I suppose it could be all infectious disease, but I’m not sure why that makes it okay.

          • November 28, 2018 at 10:53 am #

            It’s complicated, of course. Many and, in some cases, most of the infectious diseases hunter-gatherers die from were introduced by agriculturalists. Farming became a major vector for diseases. Consider malaria that some suspect may have developed in farming communities before spreading into non-farming areas. Malaria is the main cause of death among many hunter-gatherers for both children and adults.

            The mortality rate of infectious diseases probably was far different prior to the neolithic. We have some evidence of this, such as Weston A. Price’s measurement of the levels of nutrition and low levels of tuberculosis in communities that ate a traditional diet. But it’s hard to base conclusions on present hunter-gatherers, since they are under immense environmental stress and often forced into unhealthy situations and onto poor lands.

            I could go on for months like this. I’ve been in these kinds of ‘debates’ many times before. Simply put, I’m more familiar with the science than you are. It makes for a lopsided interaction.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 29, 2018 at 5:10 pm #

            Members of the !Kung tribe dying of malaria, yeah, that I can believe, but malaria is really not so much of a problem for the Inuit, who were one of the populations cited.
            Also, TB is spread through coughing. If the incidence is lower in people eating a “traditional” diet (whatever that means), that’s probably more to do with H-G being able to support fewer people so there simply never being enough of a crowd to support major outbreaks of TB.
            However, since you’re claiming to be so much more familiar with the science, I’m sure it will be extremely easy for you to come up with a citation or two from the peer reviewed literature that demonstrates that life expectancy went down and infant mortality up in HG societies once they were exposed to agricultural societies.

          • November 29, 2018 at 6:29 pm #

            There are many infectious diseases. Malaria is just more commonly discussed. The Inuit and nearby tribes made first contact with Europeans many centuries ago. Some populations were wiped out or nearly wiped out in the 1700s and 1800s.

            As for TB, you can carry the disease without getting sick from it. Or you can be around those who have it and not get it at all. It depends on the health of the immune system. And the health of the immune system is strongly influenced by other health factors such as nutrition.

            In traditional societies that maintained access to traditional foods, they maintained better health. But those forced off their lands, had their hunting equipment destroyed, etc became malnourished, weak, and susceptible to disease. This is well understood in scientific literature.

            Why is it those who are so lacking in scientific evidence are so demanding of it from others? That always amuses and irritates me. My point is that, based on the scientific evidence, we know that in recent times that most hunter-gatherers have high infant mortality, we know that this is largely caused by infectious diseases, and we know that infectious diseases drastically increased among hunter-gatherers after contact.

            If you want to understand any of this from a scientific perspective, I’m going to presume that you aren’t so stupid as to not be able to educate yourself. I long ago quit trying to educate people online.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 30, 2018 at 9:09 am #

            Eh, close enough on how TB in a person with normal immune function works. So did you mean that people in communities that eat a “traditional diet” get less symptomatic TB or were less likely to have signs of past exposure (positive PPD, lung granuloma, etc)?

            And what do you mean by a “traditional diet”? Because traditions vary wildly depending on the culture, local environment, and trade possibilities. What part of the HG diet is responsible for the claimed health benefits? Also, do you have a specific reference for Price’s work?

          • November 30, 2018 at 9:35 am #

            To answer your first question, I was speculating that it was a combination of both. All I know is that traditional societies in earlier records show that the diet of populations made a big difference in how many people died from TB. But if someone wasn’t showing signs of TB, they likely never went to a doctor. There aren’t as many traditional societies left and so it is getting harder and harder to study.

            It was also my point that traditional diets vary. That is what numerous researchers have found, including Weston A. Price. But what they all have or had in common was nutrient-dense foods, some plants and much of it meat, combined with lots of fiber and lots of fat. The most important part does seem to be the nutrient-density, though. Weston A. Price was able to specifically track health in populations by the seasonal fluctuation of fat-soluble vitamins.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 30, 2018 at 9:47 am #

            That makes your statement essentially meaningless. The only way to avoid having a positive PPD is to never be exposed to TB. That has nothing to do with diet and everything to do with whether or not you have been exposed to someone with active TB without droplet protection. The only place diet could influence is in the conversion from inactive to active. So I guess you’re withdrawing this claim and also acknowledging that you don’t know where you got the claim.

            BTW, do you know what “nutrient dense” means in terms of food? What are the macronutrients?

          • November 30, 2018 at 12:36 pm #

            It’s only as meaningful or as meaningless as the reader who is interpreting it and, in some cases, projecting onto it. So, take it however you wish to read it.

            The point is that until modern medical intervention, no one knew who actually had TB or not. All they knew was that some populations remained healthy even as nearby populations grew sick, and a major difference observed was dietary. But since the traditional people who weren’t sick didn’t go to the doctor, no one knows for sure.

            No rational person can say more about it than the evidence allows. And that is the evidence we have. The complication is that traditional communities tend to get modern medicine at the same time they get modern food.

            What do you mean by your last two questions? I thought it was self-explanatory. Nutrient-dense foods are foods that are dense with nutrients. But which nutrients depends on the food.

            Many animal foods are dense in fat-soluble vitamins: A, E,D, and K2. Inuits got vitamin C from seal fat. Pasture-grazed dairy has lots of fat-soluble vitamins, along with omega-3s (and these are even higher from cows fed on fresh green grass in the spring).

            There are hundreds of other known important nutrients for the human body. Macronutrients are another set of nutrients that could be discussed, but the micronutrients obviously play key roles.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 30, 2018 at 12:40 pm #

            Actually, TB can leave evidence in the bones and this evidence demonstrates that HG in pre-agricultural societies suffered from Pott’s disease (miliary TB).

            And, um, no. Micronutrients play a minor role in health and their lack can have serious health consequences. But it’s macronutrients that keep you alive day to day and the absence of which will kill you most rapidly. Can you name, say, two of them o knowledgable one?

          • November 30, 2018 at 2:44 pm #

            Generally speaking, the natives don’t like you digging up or otherwise analyzing the bones of the family members and their ancestor’s. And a doctor working with indigenous populations isn’t likely going to search out isolated people to do autopsies in the wilderness.

            About supposed pre-agricultural infectious diseases, that could only be determined if you are looking at pre-neolithic bones. Hunter-gatherers have experienced direct and indirect spread of agricultural-originated diseases for many millennia.

            As i’ve said, malaria kills many hunter-gatherers, the primary cause of mortality in some tribes. Malaria didn’t come from Europeans, but some scientists now think it may have originated from earlier farmers, an infectious disease that long ago escaped into the wild populations of mosquitoes.

            Your last part of your comment is sounding bizarre. I guess you’re trying to appear clever or something. Whatever. Macronutrients are simply the nutrients that aren’t micronutrients: fats, protein, and carbs. This isn’t exactly arcane knowledge. Trying to sound smart actually makes you sound less smart.

          • JuHoansi
            November 26, 2018 at 11:55 am #

            Good, I hope you die of cancer then, since that’s the world you want.

          • MaineJen
            November 26, 2018 at 12:34 pm #

            Well isn’t that lovely.

          • rational thinker
            November 26, 2018 at 1:45 pm #

            wow.. in your perfect world people wouldn’t live long enough to get cancer

          • JuHoansi
            November 26, 2018 at 1:54 pm #

            Where do you get that idea from? H-Gs lived almost as long as moderns. There are many bands with elders in their 60s and 70s. We’ve known this since the early 20th century field work.

          • rational thinker
            November 26, 2018 at 2:53 pm #

            ok then could you please cite the scientific peer reviewed journals where we can all see that information.

          • rational thinker
            November 27, 2018 at 10:06 am #

            Ok so you just demonstrated you don’t know what a scientific peer reviewed journal is.

          • JuHoansi
            November 27, 2018 at 4:47 pm #


            That’s rich coming from someone who just demonstrated don’t know what a peer reviewed journal is. You just owned yourself.

            And Helga Vierich is an accredited anthropologist who lived with the Kua.

            It’s getting really tiring having to constantly correct the idiocy on here.

          • rational thinker
            November 27, 2018 at 5:35 pm #

            yes it is tiring that’s why I’m not going to try with you any longer I have news for you. Journalists or any other lay people who cherry pick journals and write articles to support their beliefs are not a reliable or peer reviewed sorce for scientific fact.

          • JuHoansi
            November 27, 2018 at 5:51 pm #

            Dude, the link I cited was for a paper that appeared in a peer reviewed journal called Population and Development Review. It was written by two anthropologists. None of the articles I linked to was written by journalists or lay people.

            You’re not even reading my links. Thanks for proving my point. Fucking troll.

          • space_upstairs
            November 27, 2018 at 6:04 pm #

            To be fair, you linked *one* real paper from a peer-reviewed journal (in two different links), plus what appears to me to be something written by a journalist or layperson (that Medium article). If you’d stuck to one link to that one paper, you probably still would have been chided for cherry-picking. I understand that there is probably a substantial amount of real literature cited by the Paleo community, but only a few points that seem to have enough studies or high-enough-quality studies to be relevant for diet recommendations. For instance, I understand that there exists quality research showing that low-carb diets often do help people lose weight (but with other evidence suggesting that their effectiveness comes simply from cutting calories), and that ketogenic diets (which don’t have to exclude fats sourced from legumes or dairy!) can help with epilepsy and perhaps some other neurological conditions if drugs don’t work. But if points beyond these are not widely accepted by the scientific community in the health and nutrition fields, it probably means that they’re waiting for better data to roll in before telling people in general not to eat whole grains, beans, potatoes, and dairy even in modest amounts, (though they do tell people it’s fine to cut these to lose weight if they so like), rather than the scientific community just being a bunch of closed-minded “civil suckers” bought and paid for by Big Agriculture.

            If you’re wondering, I’m an actual scientist but whose research field is far outside of health or of any applicable science, and though not bought and paid for by Big Agriculture, I enjoy the taste and convenience of conventionally grown grains, beans, potatoes, and dairy in sensible amounts.

          • JuHoansi
            November 27, 2018 at 10:07 pm #

            To be even more fair, I was asked for a source, not for a comprehensive review of the available literature. The author of the medium article is an anthropologist (and a friend), not a lay person or journalist.

            As for the Paleo diet, I don’t think we need to wait for more data to roll in. We already have 100,000 years of epidemiology.

          • space_upstairs
            November 28, 2018 at 3:51 am #

            The epidemiology doesn’t prove that the diet is the key difference that leads to less chronic and, if isolated, infectious disease among hunter-gatherers. Population density (increasing chronic disease spread), social hierarchy (usually more stratified among civil folks, and a source of stress), and more frequent or intense feast-famine cycles could all play a bigger role than presence or absence of certain foods and food processing styles. Also, civilization, of course, has given us ways to work around many of the problems of civilization, especially regarding infectious disease: sanitation, hygiene, vaccines, and antibiotics seem to work even better than low population density and isolation to avoid serious infectious disease. Chronic disease, to be fair, does seem to be a modern weakness, but we still don’t know if simply avoiding a few arbitrary food categories like grains, beans, dairy, or conventionally grown will be enough to fix it. What if, for instance, the stress of hierarchy is the problem? Poor people and all people in less equitable societies do tend to have lower life expectancy in recent studies, and I doubt it’s just because they eat more Monsanto grain products.

          • JuHoansi
            November 28, 2018 at 12:18 pm #

            I never claimed otherwise.

          • space_upstairs
            November 28, 2018 at 12:28 pm #

            Well, the last bit of your last comment strongly insinuated that diet was the key to the differences, at least as I interpreted it. At best, I think the evidence currently supports the notion that Paleo diets and some other carb-watching diets can provide adequate nutrition for a good quality of life and can help people keep in shape (as can a huge variety of very different diets around the world), and possibly manage certain conditions. But if it unambiguously supported going beyond that modest claim to suggest that most or all chronic disease is caused by conventional diets and/or cured or alleviated by more Paleo-like ones, I think we’d be hearing a lot more about it outside of small communities of enthusiasts.

          • Who?
            November 27, 2018 at 8:14 pm #

            People who disagree with you are not trolls.

            Maybe put that on a flashcard to help you remember.

          • JuHoansi
            November 27, 2018 at 10:00 pm #

            People who ask for sources, and then don’t read them, are trolls. Put that on your own flashcard.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 27, 2018 at 10:01 pm #

            That’s great. Thanks for the references. There’s just one little problem: they don’t support your thesis that hunter gatherers live longer than modern people. Yes, there were and are people in hunter gatherer societies that lived into their 80s and beyond. There always have been. Maximum life expectancy hasn’t changed one little bit since humans evolved, as far as I know.

            Average life expectancy, OTOH, has increased dramatically in the past hundred years or so. Note, for example, in your second link the author keeps talking about life expectancy “excluding infant mortality”, which runs 20-25%. Similarly, your first and third link, which seem to reference the same article, talk about a life expectancy of 68-78. That’s considerably less than life expectancy is modern industrialized cultures, where a life expectancy at birth of over 80 is not unusual.

            So, nice try, but not there yet. Also, it’s not like hunter-gatherers never got cancer. See, for example:

          • Who?
            November 27, 2018 at 8:11 pm #

            Women wouldn’t-or, if they didn’t, it wouldn’t matter.

            There’s always another vagina on legs, I’m sure is the view.

          • Who?
            November 27, 2018 at 8:10 pm #

            Well that’s so kind of you, I’ll be sure to bear your well wishes in mind.

            I’m still waiting to hear why you think ‘douche’ is a trenchant insult: but then I suppose if you think a young woman dying in childbirth is better than an older one dying of cancer, you don’t care too much about vaginas or the people they are attached to.

          • JuHoansi
            November 27, 2018 at 10:02 pm #

            You lost the plot somewhere. I never said a young woman dying in childbirth is better than an older one dying of cancer.

            Is it a new thing on here not to actually read comments?

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          November 25, 2018 at 11:37 pm #

          Two years is a long latency between a comment and a reply, but since you’re here…

          I meant that I would have died trying to give birth to my kid, not that I would have died as a fetus. My birth was unremarkable, as it happens. Except that my mother would have died giving birth to my older sib so I would have been irrelevant, but details.

          You are quite right that cancer and heart disease continue to be issues. However, the mortality due to cancer and heart disease is decreasing over time. Would I like to see them decrease faster? YES! But that doesn’t change the fact that they are decreasing. See, for example, here:

          Now, would you care to provide a source for your claims that cancer, heart disease, and dementia are not decreasing, that antibiotic resistance is a new phenomenon, and that people lived longer prior to agriculture? For a bonus, you could provide data that say that medical errors are increasing.

        • MaineJen
          November 26, 2018 at 9:29 am #

          You…you don’t think babies feel pain?

          Sorry, I couldn’t get past this.

          • JuHoansi
            November 26, 2018 at 11:52 am #

            Where the fuck did I say that?

          • MaineJen
            November 26, 2018 at 12:35 pm #

            “Yeah, I’m sure the not fully developed pain receptors and nerve endings of a neonate would have caused you to fully experience “horrible pain” comparable to an adolescent or adult.”

          • JuHoansi
            November 26, 2018 at 1:52 pm #

            Which is not the same as saying, “babies don’t feel pain”. Thanks for proving my point.

          • MaineJen
            November 27, 2018 at 11:21 am #


    • November 16, 2018 at 9:22 am #

      The average modern human eating an agricultural diet has yet to regain the height and brain size last seen during the paleolithic.

  7. LM
    September 4, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    I also suggest you do some research on Terry Wahls who runs a federally funded MS clinic using Paleo principals. It’s not all magic and hogwash out there.

    • Laura J
      September 6, 2016 at 8:05 am #

      I prefer the cold combustion eating style. Raw kale, spinach and cooked cold meats. Paleo is about excluding sugars and white breads, rice etc and pastas. from our foods. People back then were hunters/ gatherers. Nature provided all the foods. Man and nature were ONE. I have 3 paleo cook books and gotta try the apricot sauce with meats in a crock pot. More expensive, yes, but worth it. MS is an autoimmune disease.
      Now with gestational diabetes, it was a blessing in disguise, learning which foods work and which ones didn’t. I could not eat any grains, keep carbs at 15 per meal. Wheat, white rice, pasta spikes.

      Since then lost all my baby weight, reversed thyroid issue as well. Oh yeah GD is gone too. Paleo rules in this family!

      • demodocus
        September 6, 2016 at 8:58 am #

        i prefer my food warm. Glad your GD wasn’t too hard to deal with; i never had diabetes so its academic to me. i lost all my baby weight too, eating pasta, rice, and bread.
        Nature didn’t always provide food. Nature is a heartless bastard.

        • Laura J
          September 6, 2016 at 9:10 am #

          it was horrible..pricking finger 3x just to get some blood! Cauliflower was my best friend. I can eat those now. My favorite breakfast in the morning is egg, cheese over kale or spinach on grainy bread. ok, semi cold/ hot eating diet.. (typing with baby on shoulder)

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        September 14, 2016 at 11:05 pm #

        I’m glad the diet you’re on is working for you and you’re enjoying it, but…I can’t help but envision the primitive hunter/gatherers sitting around in their cave eating (modern, genetically modified/bred) apricots and (domesticated, artificially fattened) meats in a crock pot.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        September 14, 2016 at 11:08 pm #

        Also, the thing about gestational diabetes? It goes away when you deliver. You may still be at risk for diabetes later in life, but delivery is all you need to make GD disappear, if it really is GD. And I lost my baby weight and more while eating a diet consisting of…everything I could find. Seriously. Breast feeding made me HUNGRY! I ate, quite literally, 2 brownies a day in addition to copious amounts of “normal” food and lost weight.
        So, again, glad it’s working out of you and I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t eat a “paleo” diet if it pleases you, but don’t mistake your anecdote for the way it works for everyone.

        • Laura J
          September 15, 2016 at 6:30 am #

          That is awesome. Yes I am currently still bf. I could be tweeking the paleo at time. I tried to go vegan, but semi vegan is all I could do. Chicken & fish mostly. I make a darn good vegetarian brunswick stew with edamame and such. GD was a good teacher for me, as I keep on the diet a little bit, equal protein with carb and the weight has stayed stable. Yeah I don’t know about later diabetes later, but all my cousins had it during heir pregnancies and they are in their twenties.
          I go by a paleo cookbook when the mood gets me. I found paleo recipes online and the white egg burrito is delicious. I hated GD.

    • Nick Sanders
      September 14, 2016 at 11:55 am #

      Federal funding doesn’t mean much. We have a whole federal agency dedicated to funding bullshit. It’s an utter disgrace, and in it’s decades of existence has done exactly zero good.

    • November 16, 2018 at 9:24 am #

      Yep, Wahls reversed her multiple sclerlosis. Dale Bredesen also developed a paleo-style diet that is the only protocol that has ever demonstrated reversal of Alzheimer’s.

      • MaineJen
        November 26, 2018 at 9:32 am #

        I can’t let this go either. MS is a complex disease and its course can vary from person to person. Can you prove that this person actually CURED her MS, rather than having a slow progressing or latent form of the disease?

        Or…do you actually not know what you’re talking about?

        • November 26, 2018 at 10:27 am #

          I never asserted that she cured her MS. I specifically stated that she reversed her symptoms. But that is significant, as no other treatment has accomplished that. Dr. Terry Wahls is a clinical professor who not ony reverse her own symptoms for, in clinical studies, she was able to reverse the symptoms of others. She is now doing a larger study to further test it. That is how science works.

          • MaineJen
            November 26, 2018 at 10:53 am #

            Dr. Wahls certainly seems to be making a lot of money promoting this diet. In the meantime:’

            “A small uncontrolled, single-arm study looked at the effect of a multimodal intervention that included a modified Paleo diet on people with secondary progressive MS. In this study there was significant improvement in fatigue scores over a period of 12 months. This study, however, also involved exercise, stretching, massage, meditation and electrical stimulation, and did not include a control group on a reference (comparison) diet. There is a need for larger controlled trials of the Paleo diet in people with MS.
            Evidence in non-autoimmune disorders
            A recent study randomizing people to the Paleo diet or a reference diet showed improvements in several cardiovascular risk factors; however, the Paleo diet group also had a reduction in body weight and a portion of the beneficial effect could have been
            derived from the weight loss.


          • November 26, 2018 at 12:26 pm #

            I doubt she makes much money from her diet, other than a few book sales. Her career is as a clinical professor at the university and a head doctor at a VA hospital. She probably was doing financially fine before reversing her own MS symptoms and writing a book about it.

  8. LM
    September 4, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    Oh my. Today is the first day I’m reading your blog and wow. You might want to run an article about why this is the first time in history children will live shorter lives than their parents. Or how diet has made us SICKER in modern times. As a nurse and professor of public health, I suggest a post on causes of modern day disease that are heavily rooted in diet and lifestyle. And stop painting every person that argues against modern medicine as a quack! Maybe those of us who have degrees in disease prevention instead of treatment should be giving advice on nutrition. Not medical doctors who get zero nutrition classes in medical school. Have you ever done research on the number of pharmaceuticals that have plant-based roots (hello morphine and aspirin)? I always find it ironic that medical doctors are some of the most unhealthy looking people proclaiming to be health experts. You are a treatment expert….stick to what you know.

    • Mike Stevens
      September 5, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

      “Have you ever done research on the number of pharmaceuticals that have plant-based roots (hello morphine and aspirin)?”

      Actually, aspirin is from the bark, not the roots, and morphine is from the flower pods.

      • PhDGirl
        September 5, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

        Roots as in basis, Mike. How is that relevant to the central point?

        • Mike Stevens
          September 5, 2016 at 6:35 pm #

          Are you sure you have a degree?

          Look at the smiley face, phdgirl.

    • Sonja Henie
      September 5, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

      The first is not true. Life expectancy at birth has been the same since 2010.

      Where do you “profess”?

    • Roadstergal
      September 5, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

      “Have you ever done research on the number of pharmaceuticals that have plant-based roots (hello morphine and aspirin)? ”

      Why, yes, I think there’s a whole field of study devoted to that – pharmacognosy. Identifying active compounds, purifying and characterizing them.

      If you attempted to use these sorts of pharmacologically active products as ‘diet,’ you’d get sick or dead pretty fast. Attempting to use them as ‘lifestyle’ lead to, for example, smoking, which is not exactly a public or personal health boon.

    • Nick Sanders
      September 14, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

      Hmm, well, I could take a plant, which has an unknown and uncontrolled amount of the intended medicinal compound, along with God only knows how many other pharmacologically active components.

      Or I could take a pill, with a precisely measured amount of the chemical I want, and no extraneous ones.

      Decisions, decisions.

  9. dwoodard
    August 11, 2016 at 7:21 am #

    given climate change, peak oil, a declining supply ( and increasing energy cost) of accessible minerals, and destruction of biological resources, it looks like modern humans are headed for near-extinction themselves. The process is likely to be more painful than the lives of hunter-gatherers.

    Also, for some reason modern technology doesn’t seem to be helping much with autism, clostridium difficile, and auto-immune diseases. Much of modern health improvements depend on antibiotics, which don’t look like lasting much longer. And hunter-gatherers never threatened to wipe each other out with nuclear weapons. I would say the jury is still out on the industrial-civilization gimmick. If we manage to develop a lasting way of life better than hunting and gathering, we will be lucky.

    • Nick Sanders
      August 11, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

      As a person on the autism spectrum, modern pharmacology is a godsend for my condition and you are talking out of your ass.

      • November 16, 2018 at 9:27 am #

        A paleo diet has been shown effective for autism. There have also been animal studies showing the relationship of an agricultural diet to autism. For example, propionate from wheat when injected into rodents elicits autistic-like behaviors. This is significant because propionate-consumption has dramatically increased because it is being further added to bread.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          November 16, 2018 at 9:44 am #

          Apparently, you’re a paleo-sucker. Thanks for parachuting in to demonstrate your ignorance.

          • November 16, 2018 at 10:17 am #

            What does that even mean? Have you read any paleo books, scientific studies, or the anthropological literature? This is what is regularly discussed and debated among paleo advocates. We know quite a bit about what hunter-gatherers eat today and ate in the past. We also know the rates of chronic diseases in different populations. Not only that, but we scientifically understand the dietary and lifestyle reasons behind many of these differences. This isn’t some great secret.

          • space_upstairs
            November 16, 2018 at 10:43 am #

            If the paleo community has its own separate literature from the general literature on nutrition, longevity, etc., that sounds a little suspect. It may well be that Dr. Tuteur has read the case for paleo but is not convinced by it, as compared to the impressive numbers produced by modern civilization. As for chronic disease, well, much of it is manageable until it reaches a certain end-stage and is not necessarily any worse for quality or even average quantity of life than the infectious disease and accidents suffered in the absence of modern food and medicine.

            Personally, I think the greatest risks of modern civilization lie not in its food and medicine, but its effects on social relationships and its potential to create unrealistic expectations that leave everyone disappointed and chasing after empty promises aggressively marketed to them. The very notion that most of our problems and their solutions are as simple as whether or not we eat white starchy foods, human-refined sugars, and dairy strikes me as, in itself, a symptom of modern civilization!

          • November 16, 2018 at 2:52 pm #

            That would be an unjustified and unfair assumption to make. Those interested in this area of diet and lifestyle come from various professions, specialties and areas of expertise. Off the top of my head, I can think of paleo advocates who are surgeons, doctors, nurses, functional medicine practitioners, nutritionists, dieticians, clinical professors, biochemists, scientific researchers, etc. There is no separate scientific field called ‘paleo’.

            By the way, if you were familiar with the paleo diet, you’d know it isn’t only about “white starchy foods, human-refined sugars, and dairy.” That would be an absurd diet, if that straw man were an accurate portrayal. The paleo diet is as much about other factors: organic, nutrient-dense, locally grown, in season, sustainable farming/ranching, healthy soil, probiotics/fermented/cultured, traditional food preparation, gut health, inflammation, autoimmune disorders, ketosis, intermittent fasting, exercise, sunshine, time spent in nature, quality sleep, clean water, decreasing stress, eliminating toxins, etc.

            Basically, it’s about learning the traditional and ancient factors of health that evolved over millions of years for our species. This is based on all available evidence from anthropology, archaeology, osteology, coprology, nutrition, clinical studies, and other fields. There is a tremendous amount of info, which allows for a lot of debate. Not all paleo advocates agree with each other. There are diverse opinions about the optimal ratio of vegetables to meat, meat to fat, saturated fat to other fats, etc. You wouldn’t know it from the paleo stereotype, but a large number of paleo dieters intentionally eat more vegetables than the average vegetarian.

            There are also paleo-style diets designed for various conditions. Autism has been linked to bread and dairy consumption, by way of propionate, gluten, gluteomorphin, casomorphin, etc. For example, a rodent injected with propionate expresses autistic-like behaviors. This is key because the level of propionate has increased in the modern diet because they add more of it into bread than naturally occurs. Dr. Terry Wahls adapted the paleo diet, especially the concept of nutrient density, in reversing the symptoms of her own multiple sclerosis, and based on this she has shown positive results for others in clinical trials. Dr. Dale Bredesen has a basically paleo diet as part of his protocol which is the first ever to demonstrate reversal of symptoms in Alzheimer’s. Of course, there is ketosis as an old and well established remedy for seizures.

            Paleo advocates are obsessed with science.

          • space_upstairs
            November 16, 2018 at 3:54 pm #

            The funny thing is, though, that the obsession with science that you describe is the epitome of modernity, hardly a harkening back to our roots. Although Paleo may not be quite so simple as banning a few categories of food, as I had thought from being a layperson with respect to dietary matters, you describe it as having an ambition with regard to solving the problems of human life through physical details that reminds me of tech geeks who hope for immortality and physical and mental perfection as cyborgs. Same goal – heaven on earth, hunan gods – opposite road to get there.

            The deceptive marketing that encourages us to really believe such fantasies must be in reach is, I think, one of the greatest threats to both rational discourse about and effective management of our most important quality-of-life problems. I love science myself – it’s my calling in life – and my very understanding of its nature and limits makes me that much more skeptical of any claim to a solution to all or most major problems just within reach. Science well practiced is humble and humbling, and its power lies largely in disproving faulty intuitions.

          • November 16, 2018 at 5:22 pm #

            There is a common misconception. Most paleo advocates and dieters aren’t against modernity in totality nor do they want to return to the past nor even to become wilderness survivalists. Also, they aren’t seeking the equivalent of a renaissance fair or civil war reenactment.

            Most people come to the paleo diet and lifestyle out of practical concern for their health. Often, it’s after dealing with some serious health concern: obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorder, etc. And also often after having tried conventional medicine and mainstream diets. It’s only after all else has failed that, with much searching, they discover the paleo diet.

            An example of this is Dr. Terry Wahls. She spent most of her career in the conventional healthcare system working as a head doctor in a VA hospital and as a clinical professor in a research university. Then she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She was a vegetarian and did everything her doctors told her to do, but her condition continued to worsen. Then her neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic suggested she check out the paleo diet that was being used by some doctors.

            After looking at the research on the clinic’s website, she started doing her own search for nutritional information and developed a nutrient-dense variant of that earlier paleo diet (most paleo diets are nutrient-dense these days). After implementing this diet, she reversed her MS symptoms, a small miracle. This brought her into the sphere of functional medicine and so she become a practitioner in that as well for working with her patients. She has since effectively treated other MS suffererers, including in clinical trials.

            Let me give you another example. Dr. Dale Bredesen wasn’t personally facing a health crisis, but his patients were. His focus was on Alzheimer’s. Like Dr. Wahls, he came to focus on nutritional perspective and developed his own paleo-style diet as part of a larger protocol. And like Dr. Wahls, he came to embrace functional medicine, in his case because his wife had become a practitioner. A difference with his diet is that he also put some emphasis on the ketogenic aspect. His motivation was simply to help his patients. And that is what he did. His clinical trials were the first to ever show reversal of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

            Then there are others who come to the paleo diet from a different direction. Loren Cordain, a professor of health and fitness, and Robb Wolf, a biochemist, were interested in the scientific side of the equation. That is because they are scientists. It’s what they do. So, they spent much of their careers studying the issues related to the paleo diet. They didn’t see any contradiction, hypocrisy, or irony in using science to study what came prior to science. They were simply interested in knowledge and, like most people in general, they were concerned about their own health.

            None of these people did any of this because they were anti-modern luddites romanticizing the noble savage. It was just following the science because it’s not as if ignoring science is going to be particularly helpful. If not for science, we would know nothing about paleolithic humans and next to nothing about hunter-gatherers. Between studying the paleolithic and fantasizing about it, most people seeking to improve their health would prefer the former, and indeed health is the primary motivation for most.

            This isn’t an ideological game to them. Nor are they seeking god-like perfection. Those in the paleo community tend to be acutely aware of how impossible is perfection. It’s more about trying to stack the deck in their favor by creating generally healthy conditions. What keeps people on the paleo diet, once they’ve tried it, is that they feel better and their conditions improve. It works. And it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.

          • November 16, 2018 at 6:21 pm #

            Let me add a point. The name ‘paleo diet’ is just a name. Dr. Wahls and Dr. Bredesen don’t advertise their diets as such. It’s irrelevant what it is called, as long as it works. Once you know the basics of a paleo diet, it becomes obvious that many diets not overtly stated as such, nonetheless, are essentially paleo. The barebones principle of the diet is simply avoidance or severe limitation of the worst agricultural foods, to the greatest extent that is reasonably possible in the modern industrial food system.

            A principle that is a close second is nutrient density, since this forms a dividing line between the foods of hunter-gatherers and the foods of agriculturalists, although traditional foods advocates (e.g., Sally Fallon Morrell) also emphasize nutrient density based on the work of Weston A. Price. There is much overlap between paleo diet and traditional foods, precisely because of Price, and so also some bitter disagreements.

            There is a reason functional medicine has become so closely associated with the paleo diet and related diets: low-carb diets, ketogenic diets, elimination diets, autoimmune diets, etc. Whereas conventional medicine tends toward the reductionist in first treating symptoms, functional medicine looks at humans as systems and as part of systems, and so the purpose is to look for root causes: leaky gut, inflammation, and similar issues. This relates to why the paleo view isn’t only about diet but also lifestyle.

            Here is something that amuses me. Many critics of the paleo diet too often fall into caricaturing it. After predictably beating down the straw man, they sometimes end up advocating for their own diet which surprisingly often sounds like a typical paleo diet. That is because the paleo isn’t a standard diet, as the study of hunter-gatherers has shown a diversity of possible healthy diets. When you look at many paleo cookbooks, a large number of the recipes just as easily could be found in a vegetarian or vegan cookbook.

            I used to be vegetarian myself. My brothers and their families still are vegetarian. The last holiday we got together, my parents and I cooked a paleo-style vegetarian meal and everyone thought it was delicious. It’s an extremely flexible diet, despite the foods not allowed on it.

            Anyway, not many are absolutely strict about it, as perfection isn’t a typical aspiration. Besides, even some paleolithic humans occasionally foraged small amounts of wild grains and wild legumes, although its unclear what they did with them as the ancient wild variants are hard to procure, process, and prepare — the rarity of the evidence of their use indicates they usually weren’t worth the effort. The point is that a handful of grains eaten a few times of year probably won’t cause the chronic diseases of a fully agricultural diet.

            You can see why I find bewildering all of the uninformed attacks the paleo diet receives. It’s a lot simpler than it gets made out to be. But the great sin of paleo advocates is challenging mainstream thought.

          • sdsures
            November 23, 2018 at 2:29 pm #

            Whenever anyone witters on about paleo diets, I imagine them advocating the eating of dinosaurs.

          • space_upstairs
            November 23, 2018 at 2:36 pm #

            If by “dinosaurs” you mean organic heirloom turkeys (the ones that can still mate naturally), then yeah, definitely.

          • sdsures
            November 23, 2018 at 2:45 pm #

            I meant actual dinosaurs, as in Cretaceous Period.

          • space_upstairs
            November 24, 2018 at 9:06 am #

            Well, I would hope paleo dieters, being such evolution buffs as they are, would all know that we did not overlap at all with non-avian dinosaurs.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      August 12, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

      It’s not? C diff is often curable (well, returnable to harmless colonization state), autoimmune diseases have, in general, a MUCH better prognosis than they did even a decade ago, and new antibiotics are coming out at an unprecedented rate. Want to talk cancer treatment? I can give you all sorts of statistics contrary to your thesis on that one too.

      Hunter gatherers never had nuclear weapons. But they did, fairly frequently, wipe other tribes out with “primitive” weapons. Modern humans have had nukes for over 70 years and not wiped each other out with them. That speaks rather well for the self control of modern humans, actually.

    • Roadstergal
      August 12, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

      Just to take one example of an autoimmune disease, the pre-modern-technology way of treating a young child with Type 1 diabetes – pray while they’re slowly dying in a coma – seems a little less helpful than blood sugar monitoring devices and recombinant human insulin, but what do I know.

      “Much of modern health improvements depend on antibiotics”

      Not that antibiotics haven’t been useful, but I’d say vaccines and simple science-based interventions like clean water have been more impactful and lasting when it comes to modern health improvements.

      • November 16, 2018 at 3:12 pm #

        Well, considering chronic diseases such as autoimmune disorders are rare to non-existent among traditional hunter-gatherers, praying is largely irrelevant. Most isolated hunter-gatherers probably have never seen someone with diabetes of any type.

        As for antibiotics, that demonstrates how modernity is a two-edged sword. Most of the infectious diseases that are treated by antibiotic are the very same infectious diseases spread and introduced by foreign populations. The drastic increase in infectious diseases is one of the reasons why mortality shot up in early agricultural societies.

        • MaineJen
          November 25, 2018 at 11:34 am #

          “Most isolated hunter-gatherers probably have never seen someone with diabetes of any type.”

          Because in hunter gatherer societies without access to modern medicine, those who develop diabetes simply…die. And, poof! No one knows anyone with diabetes.

          • November 25, 2018 at 11:48 am #

            It’s a moot point that hunter-gatherers who had diabetes would die without modern medicine. Hunter-gatherers rarely get such chronic diseases. There is a reason they’re called diseases of civilization.

            It’s about impossible to get diabetes without a high-carb and high-sugar diet of processed agricultural foods. Not entirely impossible, but extremely difficult. The average hunter-gatherer living on a traditional diet probably has never heard of diabetes.

            It’s similar to other diseases, including psychiatric conditions. Daniel Everett, for example, could never find any evidence of depression, anxiety, or suicide among the Piraha. The same pattern has been found among other hunter-gatherers.

          • MaineJen
            November 26, 2018 at 9:36 am #

            ” The average hunter-gatherer living on a traditional diet probably has never heard of diabetes.”


            I’ll grant you that they probably don’t live long enough and/or have a diet or lifestyle that leads to type II diabetes.

            But what about type I diabetes? You know, the kind that develops in childhood, has a strong genetic component and is not in response to diet? What do you think happens to those children in a hunter gatherer society in the absence of modern medicine?

            I don’t doubt that people without access to synthetic insulin don’t know anyone with diabetes. Those children all died long ago.

          • November 26, 2018 at 10:29 am #

            This is simply what we know from scientific research. The reason we speak of “diseases of civilization” is because they were largely unknown prior to civilization as we know it, that is to say agriculture.

            There may genetic predispositions to particular diseases. But if the conditions don’t elicit that predisposition, it won’t manifest. That is what we’ve learned from epigenetics research, which is about genes express or not.

            You can ignore the science if you want. I personally don’t find that to be an interesting attitude to hold.

          • MaineJen
            November 26, 2018 at 10:40 am #

            Oh you don’t have to lecture me on the science, Marmalade. My career is in immunogenetics. I’m familiar with gene expression. I’m also familiar with how little we know, thus far, about the interaction of genetics and environment (also known as epigenetics) on the development of diseases with a genetic component such as type I diabetes.

            But by all means, if YOU are aware of studies which prove definitively that people who follow a paleo diet do not develop diseases with a genetic component such as type I diabetes, make us aware of it! We would be very interested.

            *waits expectantly*

          • November 26, 2018 at 10:46 am #

            Apparently, this is an area you don’t know much about. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been dismissing the science I was pointing to. Just because you have an expertise in one field doesn’t make you an expert in another. To assume unjustified expertise, in that case, would be the smart idiot effect.

          • MaineJen
            November 26, 2018 at 10:55 am #

            So that’s a no, then

          • November 26, 2018 at 12:23 pm #

            I’ve shared more evidence in the comments section than any other commenter, more evidence than found even in the article. Your dismissal of evidence is not compelling.

          • November 26, 2018 at 12:27 pm #

            Then why do you know so little about the dietary and environmental factors of diabetes? There is a ton of scientific research on this.

          • Lilly de Lure
            November 28, 2018 at 12:30 am #

            She apparently knows enough about it to know that whilst the onset of type II diabetes is strongly influenced by dietary factors and tends to manifest in adulthood, type 1 diabetes is generally not (and tends to first manifest in childhood). As for the science presented regarding hunter gather lifestyles and health I notice that most of the information about hunter gather health comes from studies by anthropologists in the field, NOT doctors. The problem with this, particularly if we are talking about type 1 diabetes, is that anthropologists are not medically trained to spot it (assuming they would be allowed by the people they are studying to run the appropriate tests to get a diagnosis on a young child – or to perform an autopsy on a dead one), So any hunter gather child who did die of type i diabetes would simply get lost in the (very high) infant mortality figures without a formal diagnosis – so we can’t say reliably what the rate of type 1 diabetes is in hunter gatherers.

          • November 28, 2018 at 10:44 am #

            If you and she were informed, you both would know about the scientific research correlating diet and nutrition with type 1 diabetes: fasting, microbes, collagen, etc (all being part of a paleo diet), and other factors as well. But since you don’t know, we can’t have a rational discussion about the topic. Consider this simple fact. The rate of type 1 diabetes isn’t only increasing but increasing more than type 2 diabetes. If this was centrally and primarily determined by genetics, this makes absolutely no sense. Genetic evolution doesn’t happen that quickly and simultaneously across multiple populations.

            When going on diets like paleo, low-carb and ketogenic, diabetics are often able to go off their medications. Research has also shown positive results for eliminating wheat and dairy (e.g., gluten has been proven to increase risk of type 1 diabetes). At the very least, dietary control of type 1 diabetes has been well-established. This includes preliminary evidence for potential reversal and remission of type 1 diabetes, at least in animal studies and human case studies, which if caught early enough might be a functional cure. Whether or not reversal is possible in most cases, what we are discussing here is prevention in populations that were never exposed to modern risk factors in the first place.

            That some people are born with a genetic risk factor doesn’t predetermine their getting diabetes, if they aren’t exposed to the environmental risk factors that epigentically determine genetic expression. That is genetics 101 and nutrition 101. It’s unsurprising, as human genetics didn’t evolve for a modern diet, that therefore human genetics predisposes many people to diabetes when eating a modern diet. So, what’s your point?

            BTW population studies of hunter-gatherers aren’t limited to anthropology. Scientists from a variety of fields have studied a variety of populations. Since we have no evidence of hunter-gatherers having high rates of diabetes of any type, the issue of managing and controlling, reversing and remission of diabetes is moot. The issue at hand is prevention, anyway.

            The reason we look to hunter-gatherers is because there are few people in the industrialized world who (in their entire lives and the entire lives of their parents) have never experienced any of the known dietary risk factors of diabetes. This miniscule population would be hard to study. So, unfortunately, we end up talking about the scientific study of people who already have diabetes, rather than debating what might prevent it.

            Let me end with another interesting long-term study. It involved the tuberculosis vaccine. Positive results were seen with type 1 diabetes. As type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, it is unsurprising that effecting the immune system would be helpful. Paleo, low-carb, and ketogenic diets have been shown to be successful in clinical trials for other autoimmune conditions, from Dr. Terry Wahl’s on multiple sclerosis to Dr. Dale Bredesen in Alzheimer’s. This relates to issues of inflammation, permeability of blood gut barrier and of blood brain barrier, mitochondrial health, etc — all central concerns of the paleo diet and in line with functional medicine (Dr. Wahl’s and Dr. Bredesen were both conventional doctors before adding functional medicine to their repertoire).

            This is overturning so much of what conventional medicine assumed about autoimmune conditions and, considering the failure of so many pharmaceuticals, this is a sign of hope. That is why it is odd to see defenders of the status quo attacking this medical research simply because it threatens their dogmatic worldview.


          • MaineJen
            November 28, 2018 at 11:27 am #

            Couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that type 1 diabetes sufferers now regularly live to adulthood and can have children of their own, whereas before the modern era they simply died?

          • November 28, 2018 at 3:40 pm #

            There is no evidence that is the case. One could endlessly speculate about all kinds of unproven hypotheses.

            But given what we know from scientific research, the simplest explanation is that diet, lifestyle, and environment plays a major and maybe the key role in all diabetes, as we are coming to understand it does in many other health conditions: autism, mood disorders, autoimmune disorders, etc.

            Genetics can only tell us so much. For example, consider obesity that is one of the most widely researched health conditions. Yet the research on obesity has shown that all of the linked genes combined can still only explain a small fraction of causation. And by the way, obesity is key to diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.

          • MaineJen
            November 28, 2018 at 3:48 pm #

            “We” have not linked diet to autism. Not even a little bit. This is where you lose me.

          • space_upstairs
            November 28, 2018 at 4:50 pm #

            Perhaps Marmalade is referring to stuff along the lines of ketogenic diets as a treatment for epilepsy, a condition from which many autistic people also suffer, and/or improvements of some autistic children on diets without wheat and dairy (although I think the latter is more controversial than the former). From what I’ve seen, Marmalade is always referring to the impressive *quantity* of the science in favor of paleo and other carb-restricting diets as a solution to all kinds of problems, but does not seem to question the *quality* of these studies or be concerned about what *percentage of the total* of nutrition science the impressive carb-restricting science represents.

          • November 28, 2018 at 6:58 pm #

            By linked, I mean it has been scientifically studied. In those studies, dietary and nutritional factors have been positively correlated in the reduction of autistic symptoms and behaviors. Or else, in other research, correlated to an increase. If you are unfamiliar with the science, that isn’t my problem.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 30, 2018 at 12:37 pm #

            Coca Cola has been scientifically studied as a cancer treatment (it’s a long story.) Needless to say, it didn’t work. Having been studied is no guarantee that the studies show a positive correlation. Present peer reviewed articles for your claim or be prepared to be laughed at (by an autistic person, no less).

          • November 30, 2018 at 2:47 pm #

            Since you’re anti-science, that is probably where our discussion ends.

          • rational thinker
            December 1, 2018 at 9:40 am #

            wow you are now anti science because you asked for scientific proof

          • rational thinker
            November 29, 2018 at 10:20 am #

            Diet has nothing to do with autism it has everything to do with genetics. You are born with autism you cant develop it and you cant make it better with a special diet. The only thing that has been shown to help with autism and its symptoms is early intervention and a lot of therapies like speech, occupational, and physical therapy. It is wrong to suggest to parents that a child can be cured if you just change diet or detox them or the more recent one being bleach enemas.

          • November 29, 2018 at 11:08 am #

            The scientific research would disagree with you. We know that the rate of autism is increasing. And we know it can’t be explained by a rise in diagnosis and labeling. Something is fundamentally changing in early life conditions. We know how diet can have a major impact on autism. But it has been hard to scientifically disentangle the factors. Is it low-carb, ketosis, gluten, casein, exorphins, etc. Some studies have shown a link to propionate.

            Propionate is naturally produced by the body, specifically microbes. Autistics, though, tend to have higher levels of the microbes that make it. This might be related to the gut issues that are common among those on the autistic spectrum. Propionate is also naturally found in bread, but bread manufacturers have been adding higher levels of it as a preservative. Propionate, as with gluten and gluten-derived compounds, have been added to other foods as well. McDonald’s milk shakes have added propionate.

            Why does this matter? Studies have shown that propionate has powerful regulatory effects in the body. At normal levels, the body functions normally. But until this past generation, humans never had high levels of these kinds of substances. When normal rodents are injected with propionate, they exhibit autistic-like behaviors: fixation, repetitive behaviors, and focusing on objects rather than on cage-mates.

            Scientists are beginning to under the mechanisms. In another study, propionate-injected rodents could easily learn a maze. But if the maze was changed, they couldn’t learn a new path. This might relate to how autistics prefer what is familiar. The purpose of propionate is as a way of gut microbes communicating with the brain, in teaching the brain how to relocate the sources of food that the microbes prefer. But too much propionate permanently locks in place that memory ability.

            That is just one example among many. We are quickly learning much about autism. Sure, most of it is preliminary research at this point. Still, it’s far more knowledge than we had in the past. We aren’t forced to speculate in the dark.

          • rational thinker
            November 29, 2018 at 11:30 am #

            There is a lot of over diagnosis going on mostly by mistaking disorders that mimic autism for actual autism. This is where the rise comes from especially cases that claim the child was normal until age 2 or 3. Those cases most children will grow out of at around 12yrs of age and lose the diagnosis. Genuine autism is present at birth we just need to get better at spotting it during infancy for early intervention. You can see it in infancy you just need to know what to look for.

          • November 29, 2018 at 11:59 am #

            Your comment is a speculation. It possibly could be true, but likely isn’t true. We know how environmental factors are linked to autism, even if we don’t understand all of the mechanisms at the moment. Nonetheless, there is no doubt some changes in diagnosis, despite that not being able to explain all of the changes in measured rates. Y

            our speculation would be more compelling if not for all the other evidence we have, such as that of propionate studies. This point is emphasized by the simultaneous increase of ADHD, neurodevelopmental disorders, mood disorders, and autimmune disorders. Clearly, environmental conditions have changed, whatever they are.


            “There has been increasing professional and public concern about the increase in the incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) over the last decades.

            “Recent research suggests that these disorders are associated with genetic predispositions triggered by environmental factors [1-6]. Factors such as a “Western style” diet, consisting of too many nutrient-poor refined foods, additives, preservatives and colourings [7], and other chemicals. In 2008 the European Union mandated to put warnings on foods containing some of these harmful additives:


            “However, despite mounting evidence, the US and Australia have not taken such action. Other factors, such as pre-natal and peri-natal maternal stress [8] and environmental toxins [9] have also been associated with a greater risk for Autism.

            “Duff (2013) outlined the scientific basis as to why environmental and nutritional factors may be to blame for this rising problem [10]. Children and adolescents with poor nutritional status suffer from alterations of mental function and behavioural problems that can be corrected by dietary measures [11]. A University of Sydney study has found that adolescent boys being treated for ADHD with stimulant medications have a dose dependant reduction in growth during puberty [12]. Hence, since these disorders are triggered by lifestyle, nutritional and environmental factors, these are the factors that require the most attention in research and treatment, followed by which behavioural treatment method is most effective.”

            1) Kawicka, A. and B. Regulska-Ilow, How nutritional status, diet and dietary supplements can affect autism. A review. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig, 2013. 64(1): p. 1-12.
            2) Dauncey, M.J., Genomic and epigenomic insights into nutrition and brain disorders. Nutrients, 2013. 5(3): p. 887-914.
            3) Essa, M.M., et al., Excitotoxicity in the pathogenesis of autism. Neurotox Res, 2013. 23(4): p. 393-400.
            4) Brown, A.C. and L. Mehl-Madrona, Autoimmune and gastrointestinal dysfunctions: does a subset of children with autism reveal a broader connection? Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol, 2011. 5(4): p. 465-77.
            5) Engel, S.M. and J.L. Daniels, On the complex relationship between genes and environment in the etiology of autism. Epidemiology, 2011. 22(4): p. 486-8.
            6) Bell, S.J., G.T. Grochoski, and A.J. Clarke, Health implications of milk containing beta-casein with the A2 genetic variant. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2006. 46(1): p. 93-100.
            7) Millichap, J.G. and M.M. Yee, The diet factor in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics, 2012. 129(2): p. 330-7.
            8) House, S.H., Nurturing the brain nutritionally and emotionally from before conception to late adolescence. Nutr Health, 2007. 19(1-2): p. 143-61.
            9) McGinnis, W.R., Oxidative stress in autism. Altern Ther Health Med, 2004. 10(6): p. 22-36; quiz 37, 92.
            10) Duff J., Nutrition for ADHD and Autism, in Clinical Neurotherapy: Application of Techniques for Treatment, D. Cantor and J. Evans, Editors. 2013, Elsevier: New York. p. 357-381.
            11) Bourre, J.M., Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for the brain. Part 1: micronutrients. J Nutr Health Aging, 2006. 10(5): p. 377-85.
            12) Sinclair, S.A. and U. Kramer, The zinc homeostasis network of land plants. Biochim Biophys Acta, 2012. 1823(9): p. 1553-67.

          • rational thinker
            November 29, 2018 at 5:20 pm #

            My daughter would disagree with you, if she could hold a conversation. The diets promise desperate parents results that never come and the more time and money wasted on these miracle cures is very harmful to children who then don’t get the help they actually need. I did try the diet with my daughter it did nothing but torture her. She literally cried every day all day for 3 months I still feel guilty about the time wasted putting her through that. Have you had to care for someone with it for the past 14 years and still have to change diapers 3 times a day. Her autism can also be genetically linked on her fathers side. I have read every study I could find for the past 14 years so IF you thought I was just speculating you were very mistaken.

          • November 29, 2018 at 6:02 pm #

            Okay. So much of the scientific evidence disagrees with you. And your non-verbal daughter disagrees with me. Seems like a fair assessment of the weight of each of our arguments.

            Basically, you’re offering anecdotal evidence. There isn’t much I can say to that other than pointing out that many other people with different personal experience would say that paleo or paleo-related diets were helpful. The Magic Pill is a documentary that follows two such cases. But that is just anecdotal evidence, which is the reason I instead discussed scientific studies.

            I’m sorry that it didn’t work for your daughter. Then again, even the best and most proven medications in the world don’t help everyone. As for autism, if science had already proven that it is entirely genetically determined, there would be scientific consensus and not endless debate. That obviously is not the case. Even the experts disagree about it. I see that as a good thing, at least for the time being.

          • rational thinker
            November 30, 2018 at 6:19 am #

            Actually it is accepted by most of the scientific community to be genetics and I’m not just going by my history that wouldn’t be good science. I’m just saying that you can lecture me after you care for an autistic person for more than a decade.You probably wont read anything that disagrees with your religious view of the paleo diet.

          • November 30, 2018 at 9:47 am #

            There is acknowledgement that genetics plays a role. But there is no consensus about how large of a role. It’s similar to obesity that has had more genetic research than autism. Combine all the genes that have been linked to obesity and it still only can explain a fraction of the causal factors involved. We know of some other correlations from epigenetics, diet, and environment. But much of it remains unknown. That is the state of science with so many health conditions right now. Autism is no different.

            As for myself, I’m probably on the autism spectrum, although they weren’t using that diagnosis in the US when I was a kid and so I was diagnosed with learning disability instead. One of my brothers maybe shows signs of being on the spectrum as well. My two nieces have been diagnosed and my nephew probably is undiagnosed. But my parents don’t show any signs and none of my grandparents seemed autistic. So, there was definitely an increase of autistic symptoms in my family from one generation to the next.

            And as for info, I’m sure I read more widely than you do. I have a voracious curiosity and will read almost anything I come across. I’ve changed my mind about numerous topics over my lifetime. And I’ve tried numerous diets over that period. My opinions are based on what I learn and what I experience. I’m big into self-experimentation. And as my understanding changes, so do my opinions. It’s the way I roll.

          • rational thinker
            November 30, 2018 at 7:54 pm #

            Listen I’m not dumb I have a 130 IQ and I assure you I study a lot about a lot of different subjects including cults and human behavior and I even joined a cult for two years just so I could get my husband out of it. You act like a cultist you probably don’t even realize how you sound. You are treating a diet like a religion.

          • November 30, 2018 at 11:20 pm #

            I smart! LOL

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            November 29, 2018 at 12:12 pm #

            Breastfeeding causes autism!

          • November 29, 2018 at 12:17 pm #

            So, you have no rational and informed response to the scientific evidence that I offer. Why do you expect me to take your anti-scientific attitude as skepticism?

          • November 29, 2018 at 2:19 pm #

            What is amusing, by the way, about your comment is its utter irrelevance. If there was one and only one food that was absolutely guaranteed to be on the paleo diet, it would be mother’s breast milk. In fact, I was just reading a paleo advocate using human breast milk in an argument for the necessity of prebiotics in the human diet.

            Prebiotics are contained in many foods, including human breast milk. Prebiotics are what feed your microbes. And one might note that those on the autistic spectrum often have gut health problems along with microbial dysbiosis. So a healthy gut would be important to treating autism, especially since autistics on average have more of the bacteria that produces propionate, which is scientifically known to have powerful regulatory actions on the body and in particular the brain.

            But I’m not exactly sure why that would relate to autism and breastfeeding, at least under normal conditions. Then again, we don’t presently live under normal conditions. If the mother has high levels of toxins, etc or low levels of nutrients, etc, so will the infant. So theoretically breastfeeding could be linked to autism, depending on the health of the mother. It is plausible as a testable hypotheses. Still, I can’t say I’ve seen any research about that.

        • Cristina
          November 27, 2018 at 9:25 pm #

          Ok, I’m confused. First Nations groups have the highest risk for type II diabetes in North America and they’re hunter gatherers. Or do they not count?

          • Who?
            November 27, 2018 at 10:16 pm #

            It’s going to be that they are the wrong kind of hunter-gatherers.

            Or are hunter-gathering the wrong thing.

          • Cristina
            November 27, 2018 at 11:38 pm #

            Lol, not gonna lie, I’m expecting that kind of answer. I was reading the thread a few days ago and the paleo peeps kept talking about coconuts and olive oil and I kept thinking about the First Nations groups. Some up here still live the hunter-gatherer lifestyle (berries and moose), so I don’t understand why paleo isn’t adopting their lifestyle. Maybe the shitty cell service isn’t a very good selling point?

          • Who?
            November 28, 2018 at 12:02 am #

            Actual hunter-gathering (rather than motoring to the organics goods market across town in your European all-terrain vehicle) might be a bit of a stretch for our paleo-suckers.

          • Cristina
            November 29, 2018 at 12:24 am #

            What’s really gross is that some of the extremely remote communities pay out the ass for basic groceries to be flown into their communities and their food is on the verge of being spoiled.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 27, 2018 at 10:56 pm #

            I think the claim is that First Nations groups have high rates of diabetes when they adopt Anglo diets and lifestyles. There may be something to it, although my suspicion is that at least one major part of the problem is that stress (such as, say, the stress of living day in and day out with prejudice) leads to increased endogenous corticosteroids which leads to insulin resistance and diabetes.

          • Cristina
            November 27, 2018 at 11:34 pm #

            That’s interesting. I’m just curious because I’m (very small %) Metis and my maternal line skews heavily towards diabetes. I even developed GD when pregnant.

          • November 28, 2018 at 9:21 am #

            I refuse to believe you aren’t smarter than the comment you made.

            Most First Nations groups haven’t been hunter-gatherers in generations. Even those that still do some occasional hunting and gathering, they also have been eating Westernized foods for quite a while.

            I know that you know that. And you know that I know that you know that. So, you’re pretending to be clueless is at best amusing.

          • MaineJen
            November 28, 2018 at 9:33 am #

            And I refuse to believe that you have ever ‘hunted or gathered’ in your life. Speak only for yourself, if you please.

          • November 28, 2018 at 10:46 am #

            What is your point? Are you just being a troll? I never claimed to be a hunter-gatherer. The paleo diet, as paleo advocates have made clear endlessly, is about how to mimic the health benefits of the diet humans evolved under. So your comment doesn’t come across as that smart.

          • MaineJen
            November 28, 2018 at 11:25 am #

            Forgive me; I assumed you were an expert on hunter gatherers, as per your comment above “Most First Nations groups haven’t been hunter-gatherers in generations.”

            But I see you are continuing in the grand tradition of proclaiming anyone who disagrees with you a ‘troll.’

          • November 28, 2018 at 12:17 pm #

            You make such inanely silly comments that I hardly no how to respond to them.

            I never claimed to be an expert on anything. Like anyone else, I was born ignorant. But unlike some others, I’ve gone to greater effort to lessen some of that ignorance.

            So, relatively speaking, I’m less ignorant. None of us ever knows everything. Still, I’m fairly satisfied with simply being less ignorant.

          • Cristina
            November 28, 2018 at 2:53 pm #

            You might want to inform the people living on the reserves that you’re smarter than them then. I’m sure they’re used to having their culture explained to them by others by now.

          • November 28, 2018 at 2:57 pm #

            Those living on reserves live there because their ancestors were forced to do so with violence and, in some cases, near genocide. Then, having lost their traditional food sources, were forced onto an unhealthy Western diet. I doubt I have to explain this history to them, as they know it in intimate detail, in a way that neither you or I could fully appreciate.

          • namaste
            November 28, 2018 at 3:37 pm #

            Perhaps, since we aren’t them and we really don’t know shit, we should quit whitesplainin’ and let THEM tell US about what they intimately understand.

          • November 28, 2018 at 3:43 pm #

            They have. And they’ve written books about it. You could read those books, if you wanted to be informed. Just sayin’.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          November 29, 2018 at 5:15 pm #

          Just to check, you aren’t under the impression that all American continent FN were HG are you? Because if so I will refute with a single word: corn.

          Seriously, corn’s not a natural grain. We don’t even know what it evolved from. Yet it’s a traditional meso-american staple.

          • November 29, 2018 at 6:13 pm #

            Actually, we do know the plant that corn was cultivated form.

            As for North American tribes, there were some that had agriculture. But even those tribes also hunted and gathered. You see the same pattern with early white Americans. From the 17th to 19th centuries, most Americans ate more meat than bread, the meat they ate was primarily fish and game, and they mainly ate vegetables and fruits in season.

            Anyway, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. I never claimed that the neolithic didn’t also lead to agriculture in the Americas. But how is that relevant to arguments about the paleolithic diet that preceded the neolithic?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 30, 2018 at 7:17 am #

            Because the major infectious disease epidemics in the Americas came from the Europeans. If the problem was that “agriculturalists” caused the epidemics, they should have occurred before the Europeans showed up and yet they didn’t. In fact, the British found untended fields when they thought God had planted and left for them. Actually, it was the Amerind who had since died of infectious diseases.

            As for “also hunted and gathered”, well, so do modern farmers. My grandparents regularly hunted game when their farm work wasn’t overly demanding and gathered blackberries from the nearby woods. (Of course one of them died in his late 60s, but his wife lived into her 90s…almost as though genetics and/or other environmental factors than just diet played a role in survival.)

          • November 30, 2018 at 9:41 am #

            Well, we don’t know what diseases were introduced millennia earlier by agriculturalists. But no doubt there were such diseases. Everywhere they have been studied, early agricultural societies were vectors of infectious diseases. We know that from recent history and we also see it in the archaeological record.

            Early 20th century was a mixed bag in terms of diet. Many people, even in agricultural societies, were still maintaining large elements of the hunter-gatherer diet. Yet urbanization and industrialization was drastically altering diet. Weston A. Price, working as a dentist, saw a major increase in dental deformities from one generation to the next in the early 20th century.

            Many doctors, anthropologists, and scientific researchers made similar observations, anywhere a modern diet was adopted, whether it happened in the 20th century, 19th century, or whenever.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            November 30, 2018 at 12:43 pm #

            Okay, I”ll bite. What is the mechanism of action by which agricultural societies are “vectors of infectious disease” and why didn’t the agricultural societies of pre-Columbian America devastate the pre-Columbian HG societies in the same way that the Europeans did?

          • November 30, 2018 at 2:29 pm #

            I didn’t have a particular motive in hoping that you would ‘bite’. I was just sharing info.

            It’s actually somewhat common knowledge, at least within certain fields of study. It’s been researched for decades by archaeologists and anthropologists, areas I’ve read about far more than I have the paleo diet. Archaeologists, for example, can determine disease vectors in the study of bones, both of humans and of other animals, from domesticated animals to rats.

            The explanation for why agriculture led to an explosion of infectious diseases is that there suddenly was a high concentration of multi-species populations living in close proximity. Combined with the malnutrition that came with early farming, it was the perfect environment for rampant disease, often passed between animals in a way that rarely happens in hunter-gatherer tribes.

            The pre-Columbian hunter-gatherers probably were devastated millennia earlier. But they had developed some immunity and recovered their populations since then. Disease transmission wasn’t always one way. Europeans got some sexually-transmitted diseases in the Americas, in many cases from raping the natives. And European populations were sometimes wiped out by infectious diseases in equatorial regions.

            It depends on the part of the world in terms of which infectious diseases and which immunities exist. Farming has existed in all parts of the world for a long time. And there are few if any modern hunter-gatherers who were able to avoid all contact over the millennia. Infectious diseases have been spreading during that time, but until recent centuries they weren’t spreading between Europe and the Americas.

          • MaineJen
            November 30, 2018 at 11:56 am #

            Nonsense, TCAMN. The agriculture that the native Americans were definitely practicing long before the Pilgrims got here doesn’t count, because…well, it just DOESN’T, okay? We must only pay attention to the science that tells us that pre-agricultural societies were completely utopian and without disease, early death or childbirth complications.

            Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some yeast extract from a specialty store 2 towns over. You know, like the hunter-gatherers did.

          • November 30, 2018 at 3:35 pm #

            Infectious diseases spread quickly. And they often spread far long before direct contact.

            That is because hunter-gatherers through trade and fleeing refugees would pass infectious diseases to not yet contacted tribes and on and on across multiple populations. All that would be left in the plague would be empty villages and gardens. If enough time passed, all that would be found was overgrown areas that Europeans perceived as ‘wilderness’.

            I wouldn’t think that would be hard to understand. This is also something I’ve seen discussed in many books on anthropology and history. I never imagined this could be a point of disagreement, that infectious diseases can often travel faster than the people who first introduced the sickness.

            Your last point also doesn’t contradict any paleo views. I’ve seen the exact same kind of comments in the paleo literature. That is part of the point. Hunter-gatherer ways have remained common even in the West until quite recent history. We aren’t as far away from hunter-gatherers as we sometimes like to pretend. The modern diet hasn’t existed for that many generations.

            Your grandparents weren’t full hunter-gatherers, I assume. Depending on when and where they were born, it’s likely that industrialized farming was beginning or had already taken hold in their youth. Some of the modern cultivars we eat were developed in the past century or so. Margarine became popular about a century ago and quickly started replacing butter and lard.

            Weston A. Price was already since the major changes in American health among the younger generation growing up in the early 1900s. What happened right around then was a mass internal migration from rural to urban areas and a corresponding change in diet. Even rural areas quickly saw dietary changes in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Canned foods, for example, began to be seen in stores after the Civil War.

            So, your grandparents already were experiencing the early health problems of the modern diet. Actually, going back to the earlier 1800s at least, doctors were observing that diseases were increasing with modernization.

          • MaineJen
            November 30, 2018 at 4:01 pm #

            Ah, Weston A. Price: the one who brought us “the myth of the healthy savage” and “root canals are the source of all evil.”

          • November 30, 2018 at 4:42 pm #

            He didn’t bring the myth of the healthy savage. He was looking at healthy populations all around the world, including traditional rural communities in Europe. And he never claimed that root canals were the source of all evil. But he did discover vitamin K, one of the most important micronutrients.

  10. Amazed
    August 11, 2016 at 5:30 am #

    Helga, why did you decide to deprive us of the light of your knowledge? Why did you delete your comments?

  11. Helga Vierich
    August 9, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    Check this out:

    • Nick Sanders
      August 9, 2016 at 9:52 pm #

      Issues with the source aside:

      Guess what no hunter gather society would ever be able to treat. Go on, guess.

      • momofone
        August 9, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

        I’m going to bet that made it very hard to dance or frolic with the kids.

      • JuHoansi
        September 14, 2016 at 3:28 am #

        Guess what is the second leading cause of death in civilized countries? Go on, guess. I wonder what the prevalence of cancer was in Paleolthic peoples? Oh yeah, there’s a clue right in the article you linked to, “modern lifestyles have increased the incidences of cancer, especially in industrialized countries”.

        • Nick Sanders
          September 14, 2016 at 11:49 am #

          A lifestyle that lets people live longer leads to more diseases of old age? Who the hell would have guessed that?! Stop the presses!

          • November 16, 2018 at 9:28 am #

            Hunter-gatherers who live into old age (and many do) don’t get the chronic diseases of an agricultural diet.

          • sdsures
            November 23, 2018 at 2:46 pm #

            Or…they’re not rushing to post about the diseases on social media. How do you know they don’t have them?

          • November 23, 2018 at 5:39 pm #

            There is a little thing called science. We know of the health of hunter-gatherers because scientists have studied them. It’s not that complicated.

  12. Helga Vierich
    August 9, 2016 at 10:41 am #

    It would be far more effective, Amy Auteur, if you were to rail against the lack of access to effective contraception that have now caused humans to overrun the planet to the extent that our economic activities are causing massive deforestation, the sixth great species extinction, the depletion of fresh water aquifers worldwide, unsustainable soil loss, the onset of climate change, and dangerously unhealthy levels of chemical and plastics pollution.

    You might find it useful to read a book by William Catton, “Overshoot”, which documents that humans, like a few other species where this has been observed, has undergone a level of population growth that can only lead to and equally rapid collapse.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      August 9, 2016 at 11:15 am #

      Effective at what?

      My goal is to debunk pseudoscience, not prevent population growth.

      • fiftyfifty1
        August 9, 2016 at 11:37 am #

        There is perhaps nothing that has entertained me more on this blog over the years than to hear the various opinions about What Dr. Amy Should Be Doing With Her Time Instead Of Being So Mean.

        (I myself suggest she start a campaign among owners of Persian Cats to raise awareness about the importance of cleaning their eye secretions daily to prevent fur staining, but that’s just me)

        • Linden
          August 9, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

          Not to mention, if Dr Tuteur spent every waking moment promoting the use of contraceptives, it is still unlikely to limit population growth.

          Whenever I hear anyone suggesting contraceptives to solve the world’s problems without also mentioning giving women greater opportunities and political power, reducing income inequality, better resource allocation across the world, advocating science and technology to solve more of our problems, i hear someone saying too many of these *other* people are breeding.

          • corblimeybot
            August 10, 2016 at 11:18 am #


      • Nancy Cousintine
        August 10, 2016 at 5:07 am #

        You are only partially debunking pseudo science. The bottle necks in human history were caused by changes in the environment…like the massive volcanic eruption 70,000 years ago. We aren’t sure what exactly happened to the Neanderthals.. It could have been the ending of the Ice Age, and their overspecialisation to that climate, and the decline in the mega fauna they hunted. The influx of “modern” Homo sapiens sapiens, and the diseases they brought with them may also have been a contributing factor. Teh resident populations in Europe were fairly isolated from the rest of humanity, in its various forms during the Ice Age, so when newcomers arrived, the indigenous population would have had no natural immunities to any new viruses etc.
        that the newcomers brought with them. This may have also had an effect on other animals as well, with new species coming into areas that the ice had previously made inaccessible.There could have been warfare, as well as the already decline in what the Neanderthals were hunting. The newcomers would probably also have put extra stresses on hunting, as there would have been more competition for same, or similar food sources.
        Debunking is fine, but if you are going to look at humans from the long prehistoric, and historic perspective…it is always wise to look at all the evidence rather than cherry pick the bits that support your hypothesis.
        Certainly technology has had a positive impact on the health, and lifespan of our species, in perhaps the last few thousand years, however, if you discount the the pretty harsh and rugged lifestyles that some of our ancestors faced, it isn’t until fairly recently that there is a decernable shift upward in the growth rate (not including the ridiculous growth rate of the present).
        Early agricultural societies actually had poorer health than their hunter gatherer ancestors. Their teeth were weaker, and they were less powerfully built. The adaption of farming caused monocultures in farming to arise, and a good portion of those populations were not eating a balanced diet. They also stripped the soils of nutrients, and cut down vast swathes of forest. This in turn destroyed the diversity of the ecosystems that were available. In times of famine, or blight these populations starved because they had become dependent on a less diversified diet, and had, in some place so damaged the areas around their habitations that they could not hunt and gather enough to supplement their diets, or worse still they started raiding, and outright warring with neighbouring populations, in search of resources.
        There has been no time period were humans have had it all “easy peasy”.
        Early humans were at the mercy of the elements. Hunting was fraught with danger, especially before the advent of weapons that were long range. Lots of broken bones, and the subsequent infections from those and other injuries took their toll.
        In optimal circumstances, we do know that some people manged to live past the 30-35 year general range. With good balanced diets, energetic lifestyles, no highly processed foods, or modern high fat diets, our ancestors were healthier, and stronger.
        Obviously advances in technology have allowed human populations to increase, but that is fairly recent. Life expectancy rose when medicine became scientifically based, the advent of modern hospitals, vaccinations, and the understanding of sanitation…
        Sadly, the quality of human life is decreasing. The destruction of the extended family, the the increasing dependence on modern technology, sedentary lifestyles, endemic poverty, poor education,poor diet, over population, destruction of the environment, and a continuing decline in functional societal structures is working against us. Humans are reproducing beyond our natural boundaries, and though living longer, are not enjoying, as a greater whole, the benefits of our vaunted technological advances. We have quantity of life(some of us) but for many there is very little quality.
        Looking at the world through “western eyes”, skews the perspective as well. Fads, of course, so often without proper scientific understanding behind them, muddies the waters. Instead of living in an age of information, it is more an age of misinformation, and poor, little, or no understanding of human biology, or behaviour. Given what we are doing to ourselves, and to our world, one could argue that we really should spend less time boasting about our accomplishments,and start working on solutions to the problems that we have made not only for ourselves, but for the entire biosphere. A little less hubris would be a good starting place…

        • Nancy Cousintine
          August 10, 2016 at 5:31 am #

          My apologies for the long meandering post. I majored in anthropology at university, and though no longer “practicing” in the field, I do keep up on the latest. I am writing all this in the “wee hours”, and may not be as concise as I should have been. Just far to much to try and write on this subject given that it is a comment section…Sorry for the long post..It just rankles when someone tries to make broad generalisations on a topic that is very complex. We have some evidence, some intelligent speculation, and some unanswered questions. To blatantly say that ancient man had a terrible existence is not true. There is much evidence that the remaining “primitive” peoples that still exist had a fairly decent, fulfilling and generally happy lifestyle, until they came in contact with “civilised” cultures eradicated that way of life. There are no “noble savages”, but there certainly were groups of people who lived well, and within the means of their habitats. Quantity vs. quality. There are a number of misconceptions that are widespread about what is “good”. It just seems the author is so invested in her own point of view, that she cannot see the other side, or evidences (granted she may not know those things), that might differ from her own particular focus. Ok. I’ve beaten this to death. “’nuff said”! Cheers

          • Linden
            August 10, 2016 at 10:15 am #

            I’m sure the quality vs quantity argument would count for a lot, when you were facing eventual death in childbirth.
            My grandmother was not a member of a primitive hunter gatherer society. She was of a tribe of nomads that settled well before she was ever born. Her existence was idyllic compared to her ancestors. Only 4 of her 11 children made it to adulthood. I can’t remember her making the quality over quantity argument to me.

            She did have a great singing voice and a gsoh. So I guess her life wasn’t unmitigated pain? Ymmv as to whether her lifestyle was one to aspire to, of course. And it would have been a better one than the paleolithic life.

          • November 16, 2018 at 9:32 am #

            Childbirth is much easier and less deadly for hunter-gatherers. That is because better nutrition and health caused them to have greater bone development (e.g., wide pelvic bone) along with stronger immunity. We actually don’t know that earlier hunter-gatherers had as high of an infant and child mortality rate as they do now. That is because most of the infectious diseases that kill infants and children were introduced by foreign agricultural populations.

          • MaineJen
            November 26, 2018 at 9:49 am #

            Evidence please.

          • November 26, 2018 at 12:02 pm #

            I always find it amusing that it is those most lacking in evidence who are so demanding of evidence from others. Anyway, there are a number of reasons for increased maternal mortality during childbirth, as seen with an agricultural diet. All of this is well-supported in the scientific literature.

            Malnutrition increased and with it developmental problems, such as smaller pelvis which predisposes birth obstruction, a factor that remains a problem to this day. Also, farming communities saw the rapid spread of infectious diseases. There is another issue having to do with age of pregnancy, as women in hunter-gatherer societies reach puberty years later than in agricultural societies, and early pregnancy is associated with childbirth difficulties.

            A similar pattern is seen in comparing city and rural populations, even within agricultural societies. A major factor probably relates to diet as well, since rural residents are more dependent on wild food sources from hunting and gathering, although the differences maybe have disappeared with the industrialized food system that allows cheap food to be easily transported to rural areas, something that wasn’t true until the past few generations. Rural populations also traditionally did more exercise and squatting, both maybe contributing factors to childbirth mortality.

            Many observations have been made of hunter-gatherers prior to Westernization and modernization of their diets. Weston A. Price observed this in numerous population and spoke to many doctors working with such populations. They noted how maternal mortality in childbirth rose over the generations that stopped eating traditionally. This is harder to study now that most of these populations are no longer fully living a traditional lifestyle and often have come under extreme environmental pressures (habitat loss, forced onto sub-par land, poaching, introduced infectious diseases, etc).

            Here is the basic conclusion. Diet and other environmental factors have tremendous impact on human development. The agricultural revolution led to a loss of stature. The average modern human has yet to regain the height of the average paleolithic human. Plus, there is deficient bone development with narrowing of the pelvis because of nutritional deficiencies. That is combined with a higher carb and sugar diet that leads to obesity, even among the poor. Gary Taubes discusses what some consider the paradox between how poor populations on an agricultural diet both are malnourished and obese. All of that taken together are severe risk factors for childbirth difficulties and maternal mortality.


            “there is evidence that for most of the history of our species, death in childbirth was less common than it is now”


            “Both maternal pelvic dimensions and fetal growth patterns are sensitive to ecological factors such as diet and the thermal environment. Neonatal head girth has low plasticity, whereas neonatal mass and maternal stature have higher plasticity. Secular trends in body size may therefore exacerbate or decrease the obstetric dilemma. The emergence of agriculture may have exacerbated the dilemma, by decreasing maternal stature and increasing neonatal growth and adiposity due to dietary shifts. Paleodemographic comparisons between foragers and agriculturalists suggest that foragers have considerably lower rates of perinatal mortality. In contemporary populations, maternal stature remains strongly associated with perinatal mortality in many populations.”


            “Wells and colleagues (2012) note that neonatal mortality has been variable across populations and millennia, which is unexpected under conditions of directional selection. Their approach of comparing apparent perinatal mortality between hunter-gatherers (foragers) and early agriculturists demonstrates higher mortality in the latter group, consistent with more obstetric complications among agriculturists. […]

            “Evidence compiled by Wells and colleagues (2012) suggests that young adult female mortality increased proportionally with the onset of more sedentary life ways and dependence on agricultural food production. It is possible that women in those settings were subject to the same health risks when pregnant, or perhaps there were other factors introduced by these pervasive subsistence changes. Across the human evolutionary landscape, perhaps there has been more than one obstetric dilemma. While human females have faced fundamental challenges to metabolic energetics through the demands of gestation and fetal growth (the EGG hypothesis), there may have been additional stressors introduced in more sedentary times in the form of infectious and nutritional deficiency diseases, disruptions to growth and the like.”

            Wells et al., 2012
            J.C.K. Wells, J.M. DeSilva, J.T. Stock
            The obstetric dilemma: an ancient game of Russian Roulette, or another fine mess that agriculture got us into?
            Yearbook Phys. Anthropol., 149 (S55) (2012), pp. 40-71


            “ENTER JONATHAN WELLS, a professor of anthropology and pediatric nutrition at the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health at University College London who argues for a competing hypothesis on the obstetrical dilemma. For starters, Wells argues, long-term ecological trends have likely played a role in changes in both pelvic dimensions and offspring brain size. One such trend was the rise of agriculture about 11,500 years ago in the Levant, which led to a shift from high-protein diet common among foragers to one replete with cereals. A high-carb diet is associated with both increased birth weight and shorter stature in the mother, and short stature is linked to smaller and flatter pelvises.

            “By that reasoning, the emergence of agricultural diets could have impacted “maternal mass and brain size, and may therefore have exacerbated the obstetric dilemma,” he says.

            “More recently, Wells has pointed to trends in both malnutrition and obesity as culprits in what he describes as a “new” obstetrical dilemma. According to Wells, this “dual burden” is contributing to a rising toll of obstructed labor, gestational diabetes, and larger-than-average newborns. Wells describes his theory in the April 2017 issue of The Anatomical Record.

            “Between 1980 and 2013, the percentage of overweight and obese women globally rose from 29.8 percent to 38 percent. At the same time, one in three people are malnourished in one form or another. “There is rapidly accumulating evidence,” Wells says, “that the dual burden of malnutrition can occur within the same individuals: Those who experienced poor nutrition and became stunted in early life, but who have also been exposed to obesogenic pressures from childhood onwards and who have therefore gained excess weight subsequently.”

            “As Wells notes, obstructed labor, where delivery of the baby causes harm to the mother, child or both, accounts for 12 percent of maternal mortality worldwide. It also increases substantially the risk of serious long-term maternal injuries, such as obstetric fistula. Dunsworth’s EGG theory can’t explain this frequency, he says.

            “But the combination of obesity and malnutrition can: Malnutrition and infectious disease in childhood is linked to short stature, which is associated with smaller pelvises in adulthood. Obesity, which is rising fastest in populations most prone to childbirth complications, increases the risk of delivering a “macrosomic” baby, whose birth weight exceeds the 90th percentile in any given population. “Overweight women in most populations are more likely to develop gestational diabetes if they are also short,” Wells adds. The combination of gestational diabetes and maternal obesity doubles the risk of macrosomic babies. So in theory, Wells says, a short overweight woman has two different risk factors for obstructed labor: smaller pelvic dimensions, and a higher probability of producing a large newborn.”


            “Looking back a hundred years, the birth-induced mortality rates (of both baby and mother) of non-industrialized civilizations were more favorable than rates of births happening in city areas. Medical journal articles from the 1800s were looking at this fact back even back then! Why were women who lived in the larger, industrialized areas of London having such a difficult time birthing than Gypsy women and Tinkers? The populations without medical intervention fared better (less death and cranial deformity in babies and less death or injury in the mothers) than those with the advantages of surgeons, antibiotics, and a more sterile environment. ”


            “The Neolithic demographic transition remains a paradox, because it is associated with both higher rates of population growth and increased morbidity and mortality rates. Here we reconcile the conflicting evidence by proposing that the spread of agriculture involved a life history quality–quantity trade-off whereby mothers traded offspring survival for increased fertility, achieving greater reproductive success despite deteriorating health. We test this hypothesis by investigating fertility, mortality, health, and overall reproductive success in Agta hunter-gatherers whose camps exhibit variable levels of sedentarization, mobility, and involvement in agricultural activities. We conducted blood composition tests in 345 Agta and found that viral and helminthic infections as well as child mortality rates were significantly increased with sedentarization. Nonetheless, both age-controlled fertility and overall reproductive success were positively affected by sedentarization and participation in cultivation. Thus, we provide the first empirical evidence, to our knowledge, of an adaptive mechanism in foragers that reconciles the decline in health and child survival with the observed demographic expansion during the Neolithic.”

          • Roadstergal
            August 10, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

            “I majored in anthropology at university,”

            Oh, well, then.

            “To blatantly say that ancient man had a terrible existence is not true”

            I dunno if I agree with you about the men, but I certainly feel very comfortable saying that ancient women had a terrible existence. No control of menstruation, no birth control, no pain relief for cramps or childbirth, a distressingly high likelihood of dying in childbirth, no option for feeding babies other than your own breasts, dying before the age I am right now. Vitamin deficiencies in pregnancy. That’s not even going into the VPDs, infections, injuries that don’t heal properly, and so on. That’s a terrible existence.

          • Linden
            August 10, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

            IKR? And loss. Loss of children. One after another.
            Or maybe we shouldn’t look at it through our Western Eyes. I mean, they might have frolicked and danced with their children in their copious free time, but it wasn’t like they were *attached* to them or anything. Quality over quantity!!!

          • November 16, 2018 at 3:30 pm #

            Hunter-gatherers have various medicines, including in some cases birth controls and abortifacents. Also, with a traditional diet where vitamin deficiencies are rare to nonexistent, cramps are atypical and childbirth tends to be easy. It is only with the introduction of an agricultural diet that there is an increase of death in childbirth. Furthermore, excluding infectious diseases introduced by agricultural foreigners, the average hunter-gatherer lives into old age and much healthier at that. All the terrible things you describe were the cause of agriculture.

        • Linden
          August 10, 2016 at 11:07 am #

          *Raises hand* Oooh, me please! Can I point out that I’m not looking at this “through western eyes”? I understand perfectly that early agricultural societies suffered before they worked out the kinks in their new development. But somehow, agriculture took off anyway, and led to the eventual increase in population of humanity and increased life expectancy (which, according to another poster is a sign that WE R DOIN IT RONG).

          You’ve not answered Dr Amy’s simple argument that there is no evidence that “paleo” lifestyles did not keep the meagre population, who had no choice but to live it, healthy. Therefore there is absolutely no point in aspiring to this life. You also missed the point where “paleo” is supposed to be a cure-all, in a wider narrative that has “natural” be the best for humanity. No. Natural sucks. It has always sucked. We’ve used collective intelligence to smack natural upside the head, and more of us are surviving as a result, to pontificate on blogs on the internet.

          And your statement that the quality of human life is decreasing is *bullshit*. When you say we’ve never had it easy peasy, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt: WE’RE the ones who are having it easy. And, coming from a non-western background, in a country that had to do some pretty rapid catch-up of technology, especially medical technology, that we have it EASY PEASY compared to a country that is just, say, 30 years behind in medical, agricultural or technological terms. This BS romanticization of the past needs to stop. *Especially* by someone who’s telling someone else to not look through Western Eyes.

          I’ve seen people strap themselves to ploughs to work dessicated land, because they didn’t have animals, let alone a tractor. I know of people dying due to “natural” childbirth, which wasn’t a choice. I vaccinate my child because I have seen what diseases can do. And yes, diseases spread fast because people live together. And you know what? Solutions are found because people live together.
          So stop finger-wagging at people who are actually *proud* of developments that are happening on humanity’s journey, and who want to see better sharing and management of resources, and to solve problems. Dr Amy has *personally* helped women and babies survive the most dangerous process of their lives. My grandmother was illiterate, but I design the integrated circuits in your smartphone. Don’t accuse us of hubris, use the resources *you’ve* been given to improve the lot of the flora and fauna of this planet (including the human race).

        • Amazed
          August 10, 2016 at 11:43 am #

          “A little less hubris would be a good starting place…”

          Start with taking your own advice about hubris. Because you didn’t forget to boast about your accomplishments. Or do you imagine that your lectures are solution to the problems? Because to this non-Western they sound like “me, me, me, look at how smart and marvelous I am”.

          Being non-Western, I take personal offense in your fucking patronizing attitude. You know what asshole? You aren’t smarter than me. You aren’t more privileged than me. Your life isn’t of higher quality than mine. And no, your precious offspring isn’t more valuable than mine – from your lecture I get that you consider yourself the privileged one who should bequath her precious genes to the future, unlike those “other” people, because you’re just so smart and educated. Although your romantization of extended families makes me kind of doubt that.

          But then, you’re the one who says olden days were just so good because the worthy ones – your own ancestors, no doubt – had it great. The rest of them? Who cares if they died in droves? They’re just waste, after all. They took up the resources your precious forebearers deserved and needed. Just like those other, non-western people deprive your kids of what’s rightfully theirs.

          If that’s what you got from your anthropology program, it sucked mightily.

        • momofone
          August 10, 2016 at 11:58 am #

          “A little less hubris would be a good starting place…”

          I couldn’t agree more.

        • Nick Sanders
          August 10, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

          I was trying to read the whole thing before reply, because most of it was completely irrelevant and I was going to say so in a snarky manner. But then I got to this:

          With good balanced diets

          Hunter-gather diets are only good and balanced through luck. They have no control over what grows around them or in what quantity, or how many food animals are available, and none of it has the size, yield, or edibility of human raised crops and livestock. Looking at that for ideas on what we should eat is thoroughly useless.

          • Nancy Cousintine
            August 10, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

            So, you think that people who have lived in a certain area, and have had generations to learn the land, the animals, and all the resources live a life based entirely on luck? Of course, when you live off the land, there is always going to be a certain amount of “luck” when it comes to what nature will provide. Living in an area with a stable climate, and barring catastrophes though, population can have reasonable expectations as to what will be available. Even today we have no real defense against tornadoes and earthquakes and things of that sort. We do have better ways of protecting ourselves when the worst happens, but we are still at the whim of the actual occurrence. Sorry, I think I wandered off the main topic. My bad. My point is that the ancients weren’t idiots. They knew thee cycle of the seasons, and the habits of the animals they depended upon. They had a vast knowledge of plant stuffs as well. Was it ever totally paradise anywhere. Not likely. Where there health concerns? Most certainly. To assume that our ancestors where morons who couldn’t live reasonably within their chosen territories is a bit much though. We would not be here if they hadn’t had the intelligence and fortitude to survive and reproduce under circumstances that the majority of the population on the planet today would not have been able to do. Their lives were not based on luck. They knew their enviroments. They had to.
            I got mostly “in a tizzy” because too often fad diets come out that sound good, but aren’t based on actual science. We do know more these days about what some groups of ancient humans consumed because we can study the chemical composition of their bones, andresidue on a molecular level on teeth. Evidence from butchering sites, and refuse tips. We can gain more because we are able to study smaple of fossilised pollent, and all that sort of thing. Sorry, this isn’t in any way a full or tidy description of how paleobotanists, palerontologists, any number of earth science disciplines, biologist, anthropologist… you get the idea. There is still a huge amount to know. Little by little more information is being uncovered, analysed and understood. To try and make a complete modern diet of the paleo persuasion, without having all the details is a bit over the top, especially by people who have skewwed ideas about ancient man. We do know a bit by what we have learned from present indigenous populations… that is immensely helpful. Those people have lived within their world for a long time, and put modern man to shame with the amount of things that they can glean from their home ranges. I’ve bounced off again, I suspect. anyway, I am a sceptical sort. I tend to wait and see until there is enough conclusive evidence before I’m like;y to jump on the bandwagon. Everyone is different though. We all rationalise things differently.

          • Nick Sanders
            August 10, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

            No, I think what grew and lived in that area was luck. Some places have lots of variety to provide a good balanced nutritional spread, others don’t. And without agriculture, there’s no way to change that for the better. If you’re going to go off on a long diatribe against me, you’d do better to address what I actually said.

            As far as “no defense” against tornados and earthquakes, we have storm shelters for the former and all sorts of architectural tricks for the latter, especially in places like Japan that have to deal with them on a regular basis.

          • November 16, 2018 at 3:20 pm #

            @Nick Sanders – “Hunter-gather diets are only good and balanced through luck.”

            Actually, many hunter-gatherers have used land and water management. They would redirect water, do control burns, and intentionally plant or encourage growth through various techniques. What looked like wilderness to Westerners were often free-range gardens.

    • Amazed
      August 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm #

      I am not Dr Tuteur but I would never stop you from deciding not to overpopulate the planet with your own offspring. By all means, take al the contraception you want. Surely you’d love to lead the way?

    • November 16, 2018 at 9:29 am #

      Also, it’s actually an agricultural diet that causes early puberty and quick pregnancy after birth. Without an agricultural diet, we wouldn’t now have this overpopulation.

      • sdsures
        November 23, 2018 at 2:47 pm #

        Funny – my precocious puberty had nothing to do with my diet, and everything to do with pituitary damaged by hydrocephalus at birth.

        • November 23, 2018 at 4:59 pm #

          I’m sure you’re smart enough to know the difference between scientific data of averages and anecdotal evidence of individual people. Right?

          Besides, we know that the health of the mother affects the health of the baby. This happens, of course, during pregnancy which would include nutrition. Hunter-gatherers also have easier births because of a number of reasons. Also, epigenetic conditions get passed on.

          There are many things that influence birth conditions. Nutrition is well known to be a contributing factor. In fact, with epigenetics, nutrition can impact multiple generations, such as seen with famine.

          But I have no idea what specifically were the cause(s) behind your own early health issues. It is irrelevant to the discussion, anyway.

          • Box of Salt
            November 24, 2018 at 4:11 am #

            Marmalade “I have no idea”

            That pretty much sums it up. You might want to quit while you’re behind.

            Do you have any idea what hydrocephalus is?

            Did no one ever teach you Greek roots?

          • space_upstairs
            November 24, 2018 at 9:14 am #

            Even if she knew what it were, she would insist that it was probably caused by your mother not eating organic heirloom turkey, organic kale, and organic fruit throughout her pregnancy with you. Because only people who don’t eat paleo diets get common diseases and conditions, apparently. Because science.

          • November 24, 2018 at 11:03 am #

            The paleo diet apparently hits a raw nerve. I haven’t seen so much defensiveness in a comments section in a long time. Personally, I find it incomprehensible why the suggestion that diet and nutrition matters would be perceived as a threat. It’s more sensible, from my perspective, to respond to new info with humility and curiosity.

            I wasn’t originally talking about hydrocephalus. It wasn’t even clear to me why it was being mentioned, as if it were a refutation of what I actually was talking about. There are thousands upon thousands of health conditions of a wide variety of causes. But diet, nutrition, lifestyle, and environmental factors are causal and contributing factors to many of them. That isn’t exactly secret knowledge.

            Nonetheless, let’s use hydrocephalus as an example. I never claimed to know anything about it. So, your stating that “I have no idea” doesn’t really mean anything. Obviously, you don’t know much either on the topic and so we are on equal ground, at least until I did a few minutes of web searches.

            It turns out that this condition can be related to vitamin deficiencies and maybe sometimes excesses (vitamins A, K, B9, B12, etc; though there is conflicting evidence on vitamin A), which is to say related to what a mother eats. By the way, vitamin A and K are two of the fat-soluble vitamins (found in nutrient-dense foods such as organ meats) that paleo advocates talk about, partly based on the work of Weston A. Price as popularized by Sally Fallon Morrell.

            Additionally, research indicates that getting vitamins from supplementation is not the same as from natural sources (e.g., vitamin B12). This is probably because whole foods are a complex combination of nutrients that work synergistically. Price found that traditional societies highly prize certain foods for women before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. And the same foods were saved for young children. These foods included different kinds of foods but emphasized those with fat soluble vitamins.

            That makes it all the more bizarre why I’m being attacked. Why would it be shocking that a congenital birth condition and general health of the young would be affected by the mother’s health and in utero environment?


            “Why people with Hydrocephalus are more likely to go through precocious puberty is not certain. It is thought that the alteration to the brain anatomy associated with Hydrocephalus somehow affects the pituitary gland. […] Diet and nutrition also affect the timing of puberty. Girls today reach puberty 2-3 years earlier than they did 100 years ago. This is thought to be largely due to better nutrition


            “In fact, the defects listed as increasing with increased vitamin A dosage—cleft lip, cleft palate, hydrocephalus and major heart malformations—are also defects of vitamin A deficiency.”


            “In conclusion, protracted hyperemesis gravidarum carries a risk of fetal intracranial hemorrhage and subsequent nonobstructive hydrocephalus due to vitamin K deficiency. In neonates, it is well known that vitamin K deficiency is associated with intracranial hemorrhage (Akiyama et al., 2006; Hubbard and Tobias, 2006; Waseem, 2006). Thus, we emphasize that not only the neonate but also the fetus has a potential risk of intracranial hemorrhage caused by vitamin K deficiency.”


            “Female rats received a synthetic diet to which thirteen vitamins had been added. The vitamin mixture did not contain ascorbic acid or vitamin Bc, and the diet contained no unrecognized vitamins unless they were present as contaminants. Nearly 2% of the offspring developed hydrocephalus. Presumably this abnormality was the result of a nutritional deficiency.”


            “administering a combination of vitamins (tetrahydrofolate and folinic acid), dramatically reduces the risk of hydrocephalus.”


            “To reduce your baby’s risk of being born with a NTD, take a multivitamin with folic acid and eat foods high in folate every day for 2 to 3 months before you become pregnant and throughout your pregnancy. Since many pregnancies are unplanned, it is important for all women who could become pregnant to consider taking a daily multivitamin with folic acid, including women who are breastfeeding.”


            “Richardson & Hogan (1946) produced hydrocephalus in rats by feeding a purified casein diet containing all the vitamins available at that time. Almost 2 % of the young from females fed the experimental diet were hydrocephalic; female rats fed the same diet supplemented with liver extract gave birth to normal young. It is now thought that this diet was marginally deficient in vitamin B12 (Newberne & O’Dell, 1961). Animals which showed no gross evidence of lesions in the central nervous system had reduced maze-learning abilities as compared to animals on control diets (Whitley, O’Dell & Hogan, 1951). The frequency in occurrence of hydrocephalus was greatly increased by changing the source of protein in the diet from casein to soybean oil meal, and also by adding X-methyl folic acid. Vegetable proteins, such as soybean oil meal, are known to have a lower content of vitamin B12 than does the protein from milk. The use of the folic acid antagonist produced spina bifida, cranium bifida, anophthalmia, microphthaknia, cleft palate, short mandible, and edema in addition to hydrocephalus (O’Dell, Whitley & Hogan, 1951). The addition of vitamin B12 to the antagonist-containing diet prevented the occurrence of hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus in offspring littered to vitamin B12-depleted dams was not prevented by the addition of folic acid to the ration. Giroud, Lefebvres & Dupuis (1952) used 5 % succinylsulfathiazole in a purified diet to produce a folic-acid deficiency in mother rats, and hydrocephalus was observed in many of the young from these females. O’Dell, Whitley & Hogan (1948) were also able to show that if female rats are depleted of vitamin B12 they produce litters with a high incidence of hydrocephalus. This was true even though the diet was supplemented with folic acid and did not contain a folic acid antagonist.”


            “Folate deficiency is associated with neurodevelopmental disorders such as neural tube defects and hydrocephalus. 10‐formyl‐tetrahydrofolate‐dehydrogenase (FDH) is a key regulator for folate availability and metabolic interconversion. We show that FDH binds and transports methylfolate in the brain. Moreover, we found that a deficiency of FDH in the nucleus of brain and liver is linked with decreased DNA methylation which could be a key factor in the developmental deficits associated with congenital and neonatal hydrocephalus cells.”

          • space_upstairs
            November 24, 2018 at 11:37 am #

            Do you want to know why it hits a nerve? Because there are two ways to read the heavy emphasis on nutrition and exercise. One way is that “Great, we know a possible way to prevent a lot of diseases and conditions.” And it is well known that vitamins – even in “unnatural” forms like supplements and fortification and enrichment of highly processed or decidedly non-paleo foods (like iodine in non-sea-salt table salt, B vitamins in grain products, and vitamins A and D in milk) – can help prevent certain diseases and conditions. But does that mean that nutrition in its most “natural” forms can prevent or cure almost every disease and condition you can possibly name? Most of us doubt that, although, to be fair, we are not immersed in the literature supporting that particular hypothesis like you are.

            But the other way to read it, the one that leads to all this defensiveness, is that “If you do develop some disease or condition, it’s probably your fault or your mother’s fault for not eating right. And it’s obvious how to eat right: just eat the closest thing to what hunter-gatherers eat that you can find at elite markets and supermarkets. or hunt and gather it yourself if you can if you happen to have wild fowl and berries in your back yard and a hunter’s license. So you or your mother were basically a fool for not eating right.” I don’t think you can fault people like Box of Salt for reading it that way. Heck, I’m inclined to as well, hence my snarky prediction of how you would respond to this post. (And indeed, you claimed a ton of science supporting the notion that paleo diets can prevent birth defects and/or conventional diets can cause them.)

            The truth is, diet these days is basically treated like religion, and seems to be a partial replacement for it, along with politics. So bring up any of these three topics on the Internet, and expect defensiveness.

          • November 24, 2018 at 10:43 pm #

            Here is what is amusing about seeing all the defensiveness. I was initially responding to an attack piece that was an uninformed and misinformed rant. It isn’t a reasonable piece taking a moderate view. When I corrected the record with actual evidence, those would attack suddenly went on the defensive.

            But in both cases, it was nothing but knocking down straw men. Such people are battling phantoms in their own imaginations, as it has little to do with what paleo advocates actually advocate. I’m only asking to be treated fairly, which shouldn’t be too much to ask for.

            So, I don’t know how to respond in seeking dialogue, not that dialogue is what the article is exhibiting or inviting. I’m not the one here defending a dogmatic ideology. My non-dogmatic approach is typical of paleo advocates, as the typical concern is about what the evidence supports and what works.

            That isn’t to say there aren’t unreasonable people among paleo dieters, although I find them less common than those defending conventional views. If the paleo field has a failing, it is being too focused on scientific evidence, in that when taken to an extreme some have called “nuritionism.” Then again, the problems of nutritionism is also debated among paleo advocates. That is what I like about the paleo community in that there is lots of healthy debate about about a wide variety of issues.

            By the way, it isn’t well known by everyone “that vitamins – even in “unnatural” forms like supplements and fortification and enrichment of highly processed or decidedly non-paleo foods (like iodine in non-sea-salt table salt, B vitamins in grain products, and vitamins A and D in milk) – can help prevent certain diseases and conditions.” The author of this article doesn’t seem to agree. An article written two days after the above directly denied nutrition:


            In that piece, Amy Tuteur writes that, “nutrition is NOT the key to health.” So, according to her, concern about nutritional health is “food fascism.” Those are her exact words. And she is a doctor! WTF! That is mind-blowing. I feel sorry for her patients.

            As for “natural” vs not, it’s more complicated than you let on. I made that point in some of the evidence I shared. One of the research papers demonstrated that a synthetic vitamin didn’t show the same effect as the theoretically same vitamin as part of a whole food diet. This is seen in many areas. I’ll give you two examples.

            Spinach is high in calcium, but the absorption rate is only 5% which is extremely low, whereas for some other vegetables and animal products its much higher (27-65%). It matters little how much calcium you consume for your body can only use it when its absorbed. That is because there are anti-nutrients in some food sources that will bind with calcium. The opposite of that is a cofactor, such as vitamin D which increases calcium absorption. Some argue, based on the evidence, that vitamin D is more important than calcium for bone health. And it should be noted that many animal sources of calcium (sardines, salmon, etc) are also good sources of vitamin D.

            Now consider the fat soluble vitamins. There is a reason they are called that. It’s not only that they are often found at high levels in fatty foods, from dairy to organ meat. The fat isn’t merely incidental to their presence. Your body can’t absorb fat soluble vitamins without fat. That was the context for the work of Weston A. Price, in his discovery of how important fat soluble vitamins are for the healthiest populations on the planet. And that is the reason paleo advocates emphasize them to such a great degree, specifically as part of whole foods.

            “But does that mean that nutrition in its most “natural” forms can prevent or cure almost every disease and condition you can possibly name? Most of us doubt that, although, to be fair, we are not immersed in the literature supporting that particular hypothesis like you are.”

            That is one of the examples of a straw man. I can’t think of any paleo advocates who claim that natural nutrition prevents or cures almost every disease. It’s simply a matter of degree. No matter how healthy a population is, individuals in that population still grow old, get sick, and die. But they simply have fewer chronic diseases and so remain in better condition into old age, another observation made by Weston A. Price.

            In the case of those already with chronic diseases, diets such as paleo and keto have been tested in clinical research and shown the ability to reverse symptoms even in severe conditions, from Dr. Terry Wahls work with multiple sclerosis to Dr. Dale Bredesen’s work with Alzheimer’s. That doesn’t mean they cure these conditions, although simply reversing symptoms is no small feat.

            As for personal blame, I don’t see much of it from paleo advocates. The focus is more on how unhealthy is our society and food system. Most would agree that it would be better to make systemic improvements that would help everyone, but that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. In a hyper-individualistic society such as ours, we are forced back onto ourselves to solve most of our own problems because no one else is likely to do it for us.

            That is different in more well-functioning social democracies with well-funded healthcare systems and strong cultures of social trust. Clearly, that isn’t the United States. That doesn’t stop me from showing support for other societies that seem to be doing a better job at such things. Sweden, for example, has adopted a low-carb diet as part of its official dietary guideines for obesity, a good first step.

            You have to understand that most paleo dieters aren’t rich people. The average rich American more or less eats the standard American diet like any other American. Anyway, I know that I’m not rich. In fact, I’m working class and I can afford a paleo diet. It’s cheaper than the alternative when healthcare costs are added in. Besides, a paleo diet with ketosis decreases your hunger, allowing you to snack less and fast more. I generally eat less food than I used to because my cravings have disappeared and so that does offset costs to some degree.

            About the evidence, you don’t need to take my word for any of it. I’m an average bloke with no college degree, much less expertise. I simply possess basic curiosity to educate myself. Between books and the internet, the info is available to almost anyone in the world.

            Let me respond to your last point. I’d agree with that to an extent. Diet, for some, can be religious-like in that it offers an encompassing worldview and lifestyle. But in many ways, that is simply the nature of modern life that lacks an official religious order as existed in the past. Under these conditions, almost everything can take on a religious quality, not just diets but politics, economics, technology, etc. I don’t see any evidence of paleo dieters being more dogmatic and zealous than the average person. This accusation falls flat.

          • space_upstairs
            November 25, 2018 at 8:42 am #

            This entire blog is probably best described as a counter-attack piece to the pervasive hard selling of “natural” body-care choices for mothers and their children as if they were the one and only secret to success for mothers and children. Unfortunately, its headlines, such as “nutrition is NOT the key to health,” and some of its other rhetoric reflect the click-bait, dumbed-down tone of some of the hard sellers, because that’s apparently how the internet works. I read that post, and its point is not that nutrition doesn’t matter – Dr. Amy is a fierce defender of Vitamin K injections, for instance – but that that nutrition accounts for a far smaller proportion of what allows people to live long and healthy lives than the hard sellers of most diet plans would have people think. Although you say it in an articulate way and are ready to cite articles (which I would be surprised if they suffered from the replication crisis any less than any other health and nutrition articles that defend a mostly conventional diet reduced in saturated and trans fats, salt, and processed sugars), it’s hard not to interpret what you post as saying that nutrition (beyond the bare basics of adequate calories and a minimum of each macronutrient and key vitamins) accounts for half or more of what leads to a long and healthy life. Although Dr. Amy may present it in a more “clickbait” way than you do, she argues that there is plenty of scientific evidence against such a notion: for instance, that the spread of germs has more to do with high population density and low sanitation (and the absence of vaccines as well) than nutrition. I strongly suspect that this, far more than their diet, is why agricultural people, especially before sanitation and vaccines, tend to have higher infectious disease rates than isolated forager populations.

            As for whether vitamins have different effects in natural or artificial forms, it has at least been shown that vitamins in artificial forms, such as the vitamin K injections given to newborn babies, are still able to prevent diseases of vitamin deficiency even if the same vitamin in the same amount in a natural source could have theoretically done a better job.

            And yes, the social class link to nutrition beliefs like this is a generalization. I have known other people who grew up of modest means yet have also adopted these trends that otherwise seem to be largely by and for the wealthy, and the wealthy do seem to have a tendency to be trend-setters and attract ambitious people of humbler means to their ways.

            I suspect that, despite your not having gone to college (probably because of a lack of both family money and/or scholarships available to you), you have a higher IQ than do I and most people who due to greater socio-economic privilege and/or greater conformity (which got me good grades in school which made me eligible for scholarships) have undergone advanced studies. If that is the case, even my finest and most articulate arguments will probably strike you as just being dumb and stubborn. So be it. I’ll admit that I’m drawn to many of my beliefs for reasons which are not exactly objective, and that I tend to seek external support for those beliefs. That makes me the same as almost everyone else.

            As articulate as your arguments are, they will not convince me or probably anyone else here to adopt a more “paleo” style diet unless, perhaps, they happen to like it or develop a neurological condition or a more obviously nutrition-related condition (e.g. persistent weight problems) that don’t seem to respond to more conventional therapies and they’re running out of options. At least, those are the only reasons why I’d do it. When people are stubbornly attached to a belief, it is almost never a simple matter of being uneducated or miseducated, as much as the clever and/or educated among us would like to believe it were that simple.

            I’m attached to preferring a mostly conventional diet (without going overboard on saturated and trans fat, processed sugar, and salt) because I like it, because it’s socially convenient, because I’m mostly happy with my health on such a diet, and, perhaps above all, I have a neurotic tendency to worry about my health that I think is actually worse for my quality of life than any non-optimal aspects of my nutrition. You see hope in paleo-style diet principles and the general notion of nutrition easily being responsible for more than half of health, whereas I see “nutritionist” notions as yet another cudgel to use to beat myself up over any little thing that might go wrong in my life, instead of accepting my realistic limits and focusing on things in which I can make a realistic difference. Ultimately, you need your hope, and I, like an awful lot of people attracted to this blog, need not to beat myself up over the notion that “I should have known better and done something different” any time anything doesn’t go my way. That’s the kind of thing that defensiveness comes from.

          • November 25, 2018 at 11:30 am #

            I’m not going to attempt to decipher the author’s intentions. Whether or not the intention of this blog is as counter-attack, an article like this simply comes across as an attack. She is obviously quite angry about these issues. And there is no way I can know the personal experiences that motivate her. If she had some bad interactions with paleo advocates, I’m sorry about that. But that is the nature of life. I’ve had less-than-optimal interactions with all kinds of people. I try not to let that negatively bias my understanding of the issues, though.

            I fear Tuteur may have let some unhappy experiences get the better of her, an easy thing to happen in life. And no doubt she found my challenging her antagonistic views as being antagonistic. She did respond to a couple of my comments. But her only response was to repeatedly call me paleo-suckered. Not exactly helpful or endearing. Still, I understand how people get riled up. I’m not innocent of that sin. I don’t necessarily mind attacks, as long as the person in question is willing to take what she doles out. Lively debate is fine to an extent, even when it can get tiresome. This is the internet, after all.

            As a point of agreement, I’d openly admit that any scientific evidence that I share is always tentative. Paleo is as mired in the replication crisis as conventional medicine and conventional diets. That is part of the issue that comes up a lot in paleo discussions, exactly how do we determine good evidence, and what do we do when good evidence is lacking. That is why paleo dieters, in the end, often fall back on self-experimentation. Some also emphasize getting tested for various things (food reactivity, inflammation, etc) in order to track one’s health and see if those indicators are improving. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, a central tenet many paleo advocates adhere to. This is where the paleo diet overlaps with other approaches, from elimination diets to functional medicine.

            Let me touch upon the example you bring up: “for instance, that the spread of germs has more to do with high population density and low sanitation (and the absence of vaccines as well) than nutrition. I strongly suspect that this, far more than their diet, is why agricultural people, especially before sanitation and vaccines, tend to have higher infectious disease rates than isolated forager populations.” There is that and I don’t know that many paleo advocates would disagree. Diets are always part of entire lifestyles, cultures, and environments. What you point out is a fair argument that would make for useful debate.

            On the opposite side, I could point to some of the traditional societies Weston A. Price observed, which by the way included some rural agricultural communities that were maintaining traditional diets with high levels of nutrient-density. He found that those people not only didn’t tend to get the chronic diseases but also didn’t tend to get many common infectious diseases either such as tuberculosis, at a time when tuberculosis was rampant. Clearly, there are many factors involved and it is hard to disentangle them.

            For the second part of your thought, you write that, “As for whether vitamins have different effects in natural or artificial forms, it has at least been shown that vitamins in artificial forms, such as the vitamin K injections given to newborn babies, are still able to prevent diseases of vitamin deficiency even if the same vitamin in the same amount in a natural source could have theoretically done a better job.” I don’t doubt that could be true. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that requires fat for normal absorption, but you might be able to get around that limitation by directly injecting it into the body. Then again, if the mother and baby were on a healthy diet with nutrient-dense foods, such an injection would never be necessary because nutrient deficiency simply would be less likely to happen in the first place. Preventing health conditions is better than treating them after the fact.

            About class, I’m not oblivious to how that relates to diet. Our entire society is built on class, as your socioeconomic status determines everything in life, at least for those in such a society. Class is the strongest determinant of not only diet but health in general. Poor people are more likely to experience toxicity, partly because the ruling elite are more likely to locate toxic dumps in poor communities. I could go on and on about class.

            I have made similar criticisms, in how diets in dealing with problems on an individual basis end up contributing to the problems by isolating individuals from the social support and public investing that is necessary for better health. But that is as true or even more true for conventional medicine and conventional diets. Those like paleo advocates are at least talking about the systemic problems and societal failures. That is often what paleo advocates get attacked for, their tendency toward criticisms of the status quo and the victim-blaming that goes with it. Paleo critics, instead, will sometimes emphasize why we should be grateful for the advances of modern civilization. That misses the point, since few paleo advocates are against modernity on principle.

            I really want to respond to how you perceive my comments. You say that, “I suspect that, despite your not having gone to college (probably because of a lack of both family money and/or scholarships available to you), you have a higher IQ than do I and most people who due to greater socio-economic privilege and/or greater conformity (which got me good grades in school which made me eligible for scholarships) have undergone advanced studies.” I admit to having had some advantages in life, even as I’ve had some disadvantages. I am above average in some areas of intelligence (specifically fluid intelligence, something I know from early testing I received), but I’ve also have a severe learning disability which is the reason I hated school and dropped out of college. We all bear our crosses and take life as it comes. My own cognitive issues have downsides and upsides.

            To continue with your thought: “If that is the case, even my finest and most articulate arguments will probably strike you as just being dumb and stubborn. So be it.” I apologize if or rather when I come across as condescending. I always try to emphasize the point that I lack credentials and expertise and that for most of my life I’ve been ignorant like most others. I went to sub-par public schools that in no way prepared me for life. But I was extremely fortunate to have had parents who, as teachers, taught me a love of learning. Also, for a brief period I received excellent help for my learning disability. All of that is a kind of privilege, however minor in the big scheme of things, but privilege nonetheless. (One of my greatest privileges, by the way, is having a working class job, parking ramp cashier, that allows me to read on the job.) Here is one piece about an aspect of my persona experience:


            That said, it’s not as if Tuteur and other paleo critics lack privilege. It is precisely the privilege of those defending the status quo that is the problem that is most concerning. Ancel Keys was able to institutionalize a dietary paradigm that become official government policy, forcefully dominated academic debate, and silenced nearly all opposition for about a half century. That is what I call privilege, specifically combined with power and authority. Keys did all of that in spite of his research having been inferior. Over several generations, millions of Americans and maybe billions of people around the world were harmed by that bad dietary advice. It is an issue worth fighting about.

            I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve eaten a standard American diet for most of my life. It was the diet I was raised on. And I understand the struggles with diet that so many others also struggle with. I’ve been a junk food junky since childhood and it took many decades to come around to a paleo approach, after trying and failing many other diets (including vegetarianism). It wasn’t any specific health condition that motivated me, other than severe depression. I’m actually an extremely healthy person, rarely get sick, and don’t have any chronic diseases. But damn! depression sure can kick you in the ass. And depression, by way of a suicide attempt and suicidal ideation, nearly killed me. I take quite seriously health in general.

            Still, I realize others have different life experiences. If not for severe depression, it would be unlikely that I’d be as motivated. And I know deep in my bones how difficult it is to change one’s diet. But it doesn’t have to be as difficult as some make it out to be. I started out with baby steps. I first began with traditional foods and so, over the years, found healthier equivalents to foods I enjoyed. For example, I began eating more probiotic foods such as yogurt and kefir in place of candy. It took me a long time to work up to a paleo diet, as breaking my addiction wasn’t easy. It happened piecemeal. Then one day I found all my cravings were gone. It turns out it was a lot easier than I realized. The only thing I was lacking in the past was not willpower but knowledge. Once I better understood what health means in terms of diet, very basic changes led to dramatic results.

            I would recommend playing around with your diet. Don’t see it as an issue of blame and failure, whether coming from yourself or others. See it as an experiment. If one thing doesn’t work, then try another. But fully commit to the experimental attitude. It’s a learning experience and it can be quite enjoyable, even fascinating at times. At least for me, I get excited about new info and new ideas. Most of it isn’t hard to understand, although it does take a basic level of effort in that one has to be willing to read articles and books or at the very east listen to podcasts and watch videos. But there is no requirement to make it overly complicated.

            Just pick some particular issue, such as nutrient-density. There are a few foods that are well known for their nutrient-density: bone broth, organ meats, wild caught seafood (though there can be issues of heavy metals and micro-plastic), cod liver oil, nutritional yeast, bee pollen, royal jelly, seaweed, avocadoes, dark leafy greens, etc (Dr. Terry Wahls, as a former vegetarian, does a good job of explaining which vegetables are the best for well-balanced paleo-style diet). Even a non-paleo food like butter, clarified butter, and ghee can be good, as long as it is from grassfed or pastured animals (the same applies to meat), as that increases the nutrients. Even better is non-cow dairy products, including culture foods. Some paleo dieters will make exceptions for some amount of high quality dairy. Simply adding in more nutrient-dense foods will make a world of a difference. From there, you could then experiment with some other aspect of the paleo and traditional foods approach.

            Anyone can greatly improve their health through minor changes.

          • space_upstairs
            November 26, 2018 at 8:01 am #

            Your story of recovering from depression shortly after changing your diet helps to humanize the phenomenon of people who seem to buy into these hard sells, who, as you saw here with Dr. Amy, are often simply mocked by those who don’t. A more articulate skeptic would say that, unless you can prove in a scientifically rigorous manner that it was specifically Paleo stuff such as the absence of grains, beans, conventionally grown foods, white potatoes, human-processed sugars, and dairy that make the difference between being depressed and not depressed (e.g., someone gives you a mystery pill that may or may not contain these elements and you only get depressed when you take the one that does), you were probably falling for the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” logical fallacy.,_ergo_propter_hoc This does not make you dumb; logical fallacies make you human. Nearly all of us, especially those of us not formally trained in logic, fall for them. I had one particularly weird case of it when something completely irrelevant I did was followed immediately by the power going out, and I thought for a few moments that this irrelevant thing was what made the power go out! And that was only within the past year or so. I got over my fallacy when I did that irrelevant thing again later and the power stayed on.

            I actually have experimented with my diet, which one might expect from someone plagued with anxiety about possibly ruining one’s health due to doing the wrong thing. The only composition-related diet change that I could ever get to stick was pescetarianism, and only because I could adopt it as a sort of cultural identity that was common in my social circle. I adopted it about 5 1/2 years ago, once I heard about the recent links made between processed meat and possibly red meat and cancer and diabetes. It was coupled with increased exercise and decreased snacking and desserts and the like, and I think it’s the latter and not the former that resulted in my having lost about 13 pounds of the 20 pounds I put on in grad school, until I got pregnant and have since (hopefully temporarily) gained it all back and then some to support my future child. How I physically and mentally felt remained essentially unchanged, apart from having one less thing I worry I’m doing wrong. All other diet composition experiments never stuck because, well, they were socially inconvenient *and* I never noticed any improvement in how I felt with them. I don’t think I ever tried paleo, but that’s probably because it’s just too hard to imagine my life without at least some processed sugars, grains and beans. I tried cutting dairy to once a week but I felt exactly the same on days I did vs. didn’t eat it. In the end, I think the only further thing I can do for my well-being is learn to manage my anxieties better, via psychological techniques, not diet.

            For what it’s worth, I had an IQ test done as a kid as part of a profile investigating some behavioral issues, for which no long-term satisfying explanation was ever found*, and my profile was the opposite of yours: above-average crystallized intelligence but completely average fluid intelligence. I was lucky that such a profile is more convenient than the opposite when it comes to school, so was able to finish my education and become a scientist like I’d wanted to since not long after the IQ test. *My grades did slip briefly a few years later with pubescent rebellion, which led to an ADD diagnosis…which I believed until a couple years into grad school, after which I felt that the medicines were doing nothing for me and my problems were purely psychological. I long afterwards wondered about a sense of kinship I felt to people on the mild end of the autism spectrum while not being quite like them, as my childhood behavioral issues and IQ profile were not unlike many such cases, but I did not have the sensory problems that appear to be universal in confirmed cases of autism. I now see myself as just a neurologically typical person who was a bit confused and troubled as a kid, and who perhaps is a little closer to the autism spectrum than many other average people but still within the functionally typical range.

            I didn’t perceive you as being condescending per se (except to people who were condescending toward you), just extremely elaborate in your defense of Paleo principles, which reminded me of what I’d read by professional Skeptic Michael Shermer about “why smart people believe weird things” (his term for things not supported by mainstream science and evidence). Basically, that they can argue circles around anyone who tries to disabuse them of an idea that they came to for ultimately emotional reasons. And recovery from deep depression correlated with changes in diet is a powerful emotional reason to be committed to your beliefs. But given my rather modest experiences with diet changes above, I have no reason to adopt such beliefs myself, regardless of any effects my modest fluid intelligence has on my ability to defend not adopting them.

          • November 26, 2018 at 10:09 am #

            I like your style. I really don’t mind disagreement. And I have no need to convert you to the paleo way of life. As I see it, it’s not as if I have everything figured out. My life remains full of problems. And as far as I’m concerned, the experiment is ongoing. For example, I’ve been trying to ascertain how dairy effects me, positively or negatively, as I do know that I had a milk allergy as a child. Dairy potentially has many health benefits for those who can tolerate it, but unfortunately there are also many potential problems with dairy, specifically the common varieties found in the US with A2 casein which turns into addictive casomorphin and has been linked to neurocognitive disorders. This kind of thing is what each person has to figure out for themselves. That makes for shitty advice, though. Most people aren’t likely to figure it out on their own. That goes for me as well. But the alternative of doing nothing is worse. That isn’t to say we are simply shooting in the dark. Scientific research has improved our knowledge vastly.

            Consider depression. I would make two points. The first is that we know about certain contributing factors: stress, brain inflammation, leaky gut and brain (permeability of the blood gut barrier and blood brain barrier), blood sugar levels, serotonin-precursor of tryptophan (found in animal products), etc. The paleo diet, along with traditional foods and functional medicine, target these specific issues, among much else. To focus on two aspects, depressives are shown to have higher rates of brain inflammation, as are some other neurocognitive disorders. Inflammation can be caused by leaky gut and leaky brain, which allows things to pass into the system that othewise wouldn’t. But at the same time it is an initial inflammation condition in the gut that leads to the production of zonulin that causes the permeability. It’s a vicious cycle. Then with dangerous compounds sSlipping into the system, the immune system is triggered. That can lead to cross reactivities to other things and eventually can lead to autoimmune disorders. Some of the initial causes are dietary. The main culprits are wheat and dairy, scientifically shown to increase permeability. Stress also increases permeability. Dysbiosis in the gut microbiome can also contribute to these kinds of problems. On top of that, what goes on in the gut directly links to the brain by multiple pathways. The gut brain is often called the second brain, but in evolutionary terms it is actually the first brain. What we typically call our brain, that thing in our skull, is an extension of our gut. These are the kinds of things we are better understanding now. But the science is still fairly young. The replication crisis remains a problem. Still, the evidence is piling up and some areas we have more certainty than in others.

            On a personal level, I may have given a slightly wrong impression about my dietary changes and the effects it has had. It didn’t happen instantaneously with the paleo diet. There was no conversion experience for me. The changes are mostly subtle but clear. More importantly, the paleo diet simply brought together what I’ve learned over decades. Having been a vegetarian and being around vegetarians taught me much about available foods that are healthy, including nutritional yeast. An earlier low-carb diet made me more aware of all the sources of problematic foods and some alternatives. Traditional foods showed me why whole foods, cultured foods, etc are so important. And by accident, through long distance running, I learned of ketosis without knowing what it was (anyone’s body will go into ketosis when glucose isn’t available, either because of fasting or exercise). It was the combination of decades of learning the science and decades of experimenting that made the difference. The paleo diet simply gave me a framework to put it all together. Also, reading paleo and paleo-related literature gave me a further deep dive into the science, far beyond what I had learned previously. Even a year ago, I didn’t understand a fraction of what I know now. That was always the problem I had with diets in the past, a lot of ideology but limited science.

            My depression didn’t simply disappear. I still have the decades of depressive habit to contend with. The paleo diet was the last step in a long process. Off and on for most of my adult life, I was making various health changes to improve depression. Some of those changes helped to an extent, but any single change was minor taken in isolation. The paleo diet offered a way of thinking that capitalized on all that I had learned and shifted it into a higher gear. That isn’t to say that I couldn’t be wrong about some aspects, but for now the changes I’ve made have stabilized my mood and energy these past months, something that hasn’t been the case for a long time. Besides, I’m not alone in this. Even ignoring what we know from scientific research, there is much anecdotal evidence as well. And in some cases, Dr. Terry Wahls anecdotal evidence is what led her to doing cinical studies. Finally understanding what ketosis is was a big factor because then I could intentionally create it in a healthy way. And ketosis is one of the few ways to break sugar addiction, as it gives another source of energy (i.e., ketones). In fact, the human brain uses ketones more efficiently than glucose. The other nice thing about ketosis is that it has been so widely studied for so long. It’s an area of knowledge where alternative health overlaps with conventional medicine. Ketogenic diets, in studies, have been shown beneficial to numerous conditions, especially seizures but preliminary studies show positive effects for autism and atoimmune disorders. There are some confounders, though, with low-carb and wheat elimination (e.g., gluten and propionate in wheat is also linked to such things as autism). What is interesting about what we are learning about health is how many issues (food allergies and intolerances, gut dysbiosis, leaky gut, insulin resistance, inflammation, mitochondrial problems, etc) are overlapping factors in diverse health concerns (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, etc).

            Let me make more specific responses to some of the last parts of your comment. “The only composition-related diet change that I could ever get to stick was pescetarianism.” I might note that many paleo dieters are pescetarians, because of fish being such a high quality source of omega-3 fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, etc. “It was coupled with increased exercise and decreased snacking and desserts and the like, and I think it’s the latter and not the former that resulted in my having lost about 13 pounds of the 20 pounds I put on in grad school.” My guess is it was the combination of factors. Changing your diet for health reasons probably caused, as it does for most people, you to eat less carbs, sugar, and processed foods. With less snacking and more exercise, you were doing mild intermittent fasting and likely producing a mild state of ketosis, the strongest known factor of weight loss.

            About why smart people believe weird things, that applies to lots of things. Why did so many smart people support the conventional view of diet and nutrition when the evidence was weak and there was so much other evidence that contradicted it. Even Ancel Keys’ research, when later re-analyzed, showed that it was sugar and not saturated fat that was most strongly correlated to heart disease. The evidence was always there, but so many smart people couldn’t see it, despite the fact that the world was full of healthy populations that ate low sugar and high fat. It was a WEIRD mentality that led to weird beliefs. (Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic).

            About me personally, I can be “extremely elaborate in your defense of Paleo principles.” But I’m not sure how much of that has to do with intelligence, per se. It’s more of a product of neurocognitive obsessive-compulsion, probably related to my learning disability and depression. It’s true that I can argue circles around people. I was raised by two teachers, after all. My dad, in particular, taught me how to defend an argument and always demanded that I show evidence for my positions. But I do measure high on the personality trait of openness, which correlates with a greater ability to change one’s mind. And indeed, I have changed my mind a lot over the years, as indicated by my experimental attitude toward diet. The evidence I’ve seen about health points mostly in a particular direction. Until the preponderance of evidence indicates a course change, I’ll stick with what is presently known. That is the best I can do.

          • November 26, 2018 at 10:13 am #

            For some reason, my comment above shows the last paragraph incorrectly. It shows fine in when I go to edit it. But then returns to its incorrect form. Here is what the first part of the last paragraph should say:

            About me personally, I can be “extremely elaborate in your defense of Paleo principles.”

          • November 28, 2018 at 10:57 am #

            BTW your comment is a bit condescending. I know the science better than you do. Yet you lecture me that my views are biased and not based on science, while your views remain uninformed. That is a bit irritating.

            There is much science on this. It’s not simply my anecdotal evidence. We know that depression is related to brain inflammation, blood sugar problems, insulin resistance, etc. We also know that depression is related to serotonin issues and that the precursor to serotonin, tryptophan, is found in certain foods (turkey, kefir, etc).

            All of this is well known. Your condescension is unjustified.

          • space_upstairs
            November 28, 2018 at 11:27 am #

            If I came across as condescending, well, part of it is because I’m an actual trained scientist and thus have confidence that I understand the nature of science and why science is hesitant to adopt paradigm shifts better than most laypeople do, even if those laypeople, as in your case, happen to be more interested in a certain area of science than I am. Therefore, I tend to trust the mainstream of any given field as not making a dumb decision regarding the science they accept or reject. If it is not yet accepted by a majority of practicing health researchers that eating fewer grains, beans, potatoes, conventionally grown foods, and dairy products would be beneficial to most people to alleviate a huge variety of chronic conditions, I would be surprised as a scientist if conflicts of interests with industries are the only reason for that (although they are probably a bigger barrier than in non-applicable fields).

            The other reason for my being condescending was to try to express – somewhat more politely than your average Skeptic would, but it’s inherently unflattering to talk about these things – how common thinking patterns can make any individual opinion less trustworthy than an institutional body of evidence. When I brought up the logical fallacy in question, I made sure to share an example of how I myself fall for it sometimes in order to soften that condescending aspect of discussing such matters.

            Yes, tryptophan is found in certain “paleo”-friendly foods and is related to brain chemistry that is related to depression, but that doesn’t mean that eating more turkey and kefir and less potatoes and grains will alleviate depression any more than cutting dietary cholesterol reduced blood cholesterol levels. Perhaps health researchers are hesitant to make that same sort of mistake again once they realized it? Just because the resolution of that particular error happened to be supportive of the Paleo paradigm doesn’t mean that other resolutions of other mistakes or potential mistakes will also support the Paleo paradigm. That would be like saying every hole in evolution is supportive of intelligent design. Paradigms require a lot of evidence – high quality and over time – to overturn. As much as supporters of certain alternative paradigms even in my own field might claim that by now there should be more than enough science by now to overturn the dominant paradigm in favor of theirs, all the rest of us can say is that “well, sure, we know our paradigm has holes in it, but yours has just as many holes.” I’ll leave it to the nutrition researchers themselves, whom I trust more than myself or you (clever and informed as you may be despite being a layperson), to decide, just as they ought to leave my colleagues and me to decide on similar matters in my own field no matter how much literature in my field they might read.

          • November 28, 2018 at 3:30 pm #

            It is strange that, as a self-identified scientist, you act like there has never been any science done on paleo diets, low-carb diets, and ketogenic diets. There are thousands of studies out there, from clinical to large-scale, from short-term to many years. The ketogenic diet, a core element to the paleo diet, has been studied and used in medicine for almost a century. This isn’t about laypeople vs doctors. Many of the paleo advocates are medical doctors, sports medicine practitioners, cardiologist, neurosurgeons, clinical professors, scientific researchers, biochemists, nutritionists, dieticians, nurses, functional medicine practitioners, etc.

            Part of my point is that my depression didn’t simply disappear one day. I’ve been learning about the science behind depression for decades now and applying what I’ve learned. Much of that science that goes way back is in line with paleo theory. That is because paleo advocates have based the diet specifically on what is scientifically known. And when there is a lack of knowledge, quite a few of them have done academic research to test new hypotheses. There are many overlapping fields of science that have explored various aspects of the paleo and paleo-related diets, nutrition, lifestyle changes, etc.

            I too am a skeptic. It is precisely skepticism that led me to here. If you were better informed on the topic, you too would be more skeptical. I’d suggest reading the journalism of Gary Taubes and Nina Teicholz. They explain in great detail how so much bad science came to dominate mainstream nutrition. Combine that with the replication crises that has particularly hit hard medical research and nutritional research. Anyone who isn’t skeptical of conventional opinion isn’t paying attention. It isn’t a matter of simply a matter of paying attention to the experts. Which experts? There isn’t any clear consensus in nutritional studies on many key points. That is why so many paleo advocates are themselves experts who changed their minds after studying the evidence.

            Take a related issue such as cholesterol and statins. The Lancet pushes a conventional view while the BMJ is much more skeptical, but both the Lancet and the BMJ are highly respected journals. You can find a particular respectable journal that already agrees with your bias. How is that helpful?

          • space_upstairs
            November 28, 2018 at 4:38 pm #

            I’m not saying no science has been done, I’m saying that the majority of the science that has been done does not support the notion that paleo and carb-control diets are a near-universal solution to a wide variety of chronic diseases, any more than the science that has been done on weather suggests that humans are NOT the principal cause of recent increases in average temperature and severe storms on Earth. There is plenty of science supporting non-anthropogenic climate change – for instance, historically we know that solar magnetic activity levels have influenced climate – but it does not support such factors having a more important role than human industrial activity in current climate phenomena.

            Similarly, I accept that there’s plenty of science supporting the notion that carb-controlling diets can provide adequate nutrition for a good life, help some people keep in shape, and in certain situations treat certain conditions such as epilepsy that doesn’t respond to medication. These notions do seem to have made it into the mainstream nutrition paradigm as filtered through trusted sources. But I do not accept that paleo-type diets are necessarily better for most people, most of the time than a diet with more conventional composition but moderate portions and good macronutrient and micronutrient balance, becuase it appears that the bulk of the health research community has yet to accept such a notion. Of course there are going to be plenty of individual scientists and health professionals supporting research into paleo-type and other carb-limiting diets, as it should be. But what counts for the big picture is the general opinion of the scientific *community* on average on the subject. Until the general opinion of the scientific community changes on this matter, mine will not change either, though I will not begrudge the paleo/carb-control researchers their calling to keep exploring the topic and questioning certain received wisdom. I only begrudge their passing premature overconfidence in their hypotheses and the evidence supporting them to laypeople and the market, giving people the impression that the science in their favor is so overwhelmingly compelling that the mainstream must not be budging out of pure conflict of interest.

          • Who?
            November 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

            Yes this.

            Eating less of everything would do most of us the world of good, because high-density and yummy food is everywhere, easy to eat and satisfying.

            Some folks dress this up into fetishes for themselves, others market and distribute the tools for achieving it, and still others buy into the marketing. If people end up more well, great.

            It’s always struck me that the highly prescriptive regimes (‘diet’ is too gentle a word) with lots of rules, regulations and strictures might suit certain personality types quite well.

          • November 28, 2018 at 6:48 pm #

            What do you mean by majority of science? The majority of exactly which science?

            The majority of science shows that low-carb is the best method of fat loss. The majority of science shows that ketosis effectively treats seizures, improves mood, increases energy, etc. The majority of science shows that certain gut microbes alter mood and behavior. The majority of science shows that, like wheat and dairy, stress causes gut permeability. And on and on.

            Those are all areas of science that the paleo diet draws upon. And so the paleo diet is in line with large areas of what most science shows. Sure, there are other areas of disagreement, lack of consensus, or simply where results are preliminary. An example of this is much of the research on autism, which we learning much about while it remains partly a mystery.

            Other areas that are becoming more well known is of Alzheimer’s, which many doctors and experts are now calling type 3 diabetes. This is one of the many autoimmune conditions that have shown positive results with the paleo diet in studies, although this is preliminary. Still, this preliminary research has shown stronger evidence so far than any medication.

            The doctors and researchers who looked into this area of science were sometimes in the past considered alternative or even quacks. But that has largely changed. Dr. Wahls’ research on multiple sclerosis is becoming more well known in the mainstream. Also, it’s become ever more common for medical professionals to recommend these kinds of diets: ketogenic, low-carb, paleo, etc. In fact, the ketogenic diet has been mainstream for a long time, a likely reason for why a conventional doctor like Dr. Dale Bredesen decided to research the ketogenic diet combined with other things in treatment of Alzheimer’s.

            This kind of research is happening in the mainstream, is being done by respectable doctors and researchers, and is being published in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Wahls, for instance, does her research at one of the main medical research universities in the country and she did it with federal funding, an important point considering federal research is only given to the most serious research.

            From a different perspective, there is the decades of academic research done by Loren Cordain. He has helped determine specific aspects of the the diet of humans during the Paleolithic era. He is a typical example of a scientific-minded paleo advocate. His early research indicated that Paleolithic humans ate lower amounts of fat, but his later research instead proved the opposite was the case. He changed his dietary recommendations accordingly. Either in the past or in the present, there is nothing particularly alternative about his research as it has always been part of mainstream debate in that field.

            There is obviously much misunderstanding here. I’ve never come across a paleo advocate who claimed “that paleo and carb-control diets are a near-universal solution to a wide variety of chronic diseases”. First off, such diets are mainly focused on the so-called chronic diseases of civilization, which is far from being all diseases. Secondly and more importantly, such diets are more concerned about general health, even as they’ve effectively applied to particular conditions. This is really no different than what is claimed of the conventional diet of the USDA recommendations, which is likewise based on assertions of how it improves health in numerous ways. The disagreement is less about the kinds of claims and more about the evidence behind those claims.

            It’s also a difference of paradigm. Many paleo advocates are functional medicine practitioners, including some that are also doctors and researchers — I’m specifically thinking of Dr. Wahls and Dr. Bredesen, but the same is true of some lesser known names. Functional medicine takes a systemic and holistic approach. This is based on the growing evidence in mainstream research that shows many of the same symptoms, the same causal or correlated factors. Gut problems have been associated with a wide variety of health conditions, as is also seen with inflammation. For example, brain inflammation is found in other neurocognitive and psychiatric conditions, besides depression.

            Conventional medicine can’t explain this overlap because it simply doesn’t fit the paradigm. Functional medicine, however, is able to make testable hypotheses that are beginning to throw light on this confusion. It’s not so much the observational and research evidence that is alternative, rather it’s the paradigm that is alternative in its challenging the status quo. This isn’t the same situation as seen in climatology. There is a lack of consensus about diet and nutrition at the moment, but there is no lack of consensus about anthropogenic climate change, at least not among the experts. The debate involving the Lancet and the BMJ demonstrates this difference between these fields of study.

            Not only is there no consensus in diet and nutrition for the disagreements are increasing. So, your unwillingness to accept other views that disagree with your own is hardly surprising. The experts themselves disagree with each other. That is simply the situation we find ourselves in. It turns out that much of what we thought we knew in the past has been proven partly or entirely wrong or else not as well supported and way more complicated. This has opened up debate and so brought on animosity, as demonstrated by this post and the comments section. Consider how even mainstream science has proven our misunderstanding of saturated fats, despite no new understanding yet having fully taken hold as a consensus.

            If you read more widely and deeply in this field, you’d know where people like me are coming from. A good place to start, as I said, is with Gary Taubes and Nina Teicholz. They are both award-winning mainstream journalists, the latter specifically a science journalist. Another journalist to look into is Kristin Lawless, specifically in her book Formerly Known As Food. These are the kinds of writers who give the larger context that makes sense of why there is so much contentious debate, not only between the mainstream and alternative views but within the mainstream itself.

          • November 28, 2018 at 8:59 pm #

            I’m not, on principle, against appeal to authority. But in this case, it isn’t compelling. There are too many authority figures with diverse opinions. It becomes mere bias which authority one prefers.

            Even so, I’ve pointed out various points where the evidence is strong and those points confirm the paleo view. So, at the very least, large parts of the paleo diet and lifestyle are confirmed.

          • space_upstairs
            November 29, 2018 at 8:11 am #

            Confirmed as good enough for general nutrition and helpful to people who like eating that way, sure – I won’t deny that. What I question, and you presumably think that I have no basis to question until I have read as much literature as you, is the notion that it’s confirmed as better for most people most of the time. And even if the scientific community as a whole did claim such a thing, perhaps there would be exceptions or questions of cost-benefit ratio (and yes, I know that you said earlier that you can afford a paleo diet on a working-class salary and all, but there are different kinds of “costs”) that do not justify the hard sell, as many are now arguing is the case with breastfeeding.

            I think it’s time for me to retire from this debate, because I’ve been thinking about why I’m here vs. why you’re here, and my reason for being here might be outliving its usefulness and my participation in these debates might be working against my purpose. I’ll admit: I have a narrow, personal agenda. Specifically, I was drawn to blogs like this to reduce my anxiety about health: for years I’ve been haunted on and off by the notion – without evidence – that I am not taking good enough care of myself due to weaknesses in intellect and/or character. That’s why I tend to be attracted to arguments that “the mainstream is good enough for a majority of people the majority of the time, as long as they mostly follow the basic, sensible advice.” I am not looking to optimize in this area; I am simply looking for a “good enough.” In this respect, my agenda, like my intellectual strengths and weaknesses, may be the inverse of yours, as you seem dedicated to “debunking” the notion that the alternative health paradigms are “bunk” that tends to be promoted in spaces like this and holding out the hope of eliminating most chronic illness by cutting or being very selective about carb-rich foods.

            I’m now realizing that I have other, better ways of drawing the “good enough” line in my personal approach to health than reading repetitive articles and engaging in debates I can’t win (yes, I’ll even admit that I “lost” this debate on the basis that I am not willing to look up specific literature to back my position) on mainstream-sympathetic health blogs. I’ve made more progress monitoring my own weight and blood pressure and exercise levels recently than I have for the various years I’ve been reading health blogs or communities on the internet. I have amassed living proof that an approach consistent with the mainstream paradigms is, thus far, “good enough” for me. The rest of the work will be about putting health in its proper place on my list of personal values. I should approach it in the same practical sense that I approach money, rather than treating it like some kind of credential. As much as I’ve enjoyed the thoughts provoked by engaging in this debate, I don’t think this debate has any more to offer for this particular agenda of mine, and I’m starting to think that even reading health blogs in general has outlived its usefulness. So…have fun fighting the power defending the alternative health paradigm that gives you hope. I’ll mind my own business from here.

          • November 29, 2018 at 8:23 am #

            I hope you the best for your own health. I’m not an extremist. Part of the reason I like traditional foods and paleo diet is for the very reason they promote balance, rather than extremism. The failure of the standard American diet (SAD) is that it has become so imbalanced.

            There is nothing necessarily wrong with eating some wheat and dairy, but we know from historical records that few people ate high levels of wheat and dairy until the past few generations. So, if you’re looking for moderation, then you might want to moderate wheat and dairy back to the level of historical norms. Sugar as well.

            Also, you might want to consider eating foods in the way most humans ate them not only during the paleolithic but also during the millennia of agriculture. For example, traditional farmers usually soaked, sprouted, and fermented their grains (e.g., fermented sourdough bread) to eliminate anti-nutrients and such.

            So even if you are to eat an agricultural-based diet, you would be wise to do so as was common until industrialized agriculture. Processed foods not only have high levels of refined flour, sugar and unhealthy oils but toxins as well. Glyphosate (Roundup) is found in nearly all wheat and corn found in the US, and it has been proven to be highly dangerous to health

            If nothing else, eating organic foods will make a world of difference.

            Be that as it may, I’ll leave you with this conclusion:

            “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”
            ~Dr Marcia Angell

          • November 29, 2018 at 10:48 am #

            I was thinking more about your comment. I honestly don’t know what it would mean for claims of paleo and paleo-related diets to be better for most people most of the time. First, our understanding of the paleo diet has changed over time. Second, there are many versions of the paleo diet, as there are many versions of hunter-gatherer diets. Most of the paleo recommendations are broad and basic. And they aren’t strict rules, as no one is pretending to actually be living like paleo humans. The paleo diet is more or less a variation of traditional foods, as advocated by Sally Fallon Morell, somewhat more strict in some ways but not entirely. Many paleo dieters, for example, make an exception for ghee and aged cheese because of the nutrient-density combined with the most problematic parts of dairy being reduced.

            There are a large number of people who straddle the words of paleo diet and traditional foods, the main distinction simply being on the issue of agricultural foods. Even paleo advocates will advise that, if you are going to eat agricultural foods, you should do so according to traditional methods. So there is no extremism necessary for, as I pointed out, the paleo diet is about balance and moderation. Also, as I said in some other comment, it doesn’t need to be as difficult as people make it out to be. If you feel judged or blamed or stressed out about your health issues, you shouldn’t. Paleo advocates would advise against that. One of the things that distinguishes the paleo diet and lifestyle is that it isn’t about restricting yourself, denying yourself, and punishing yourself. If your diet and lifestyle doesn’t improve your life and make you feel better, then you’re doing something wrong.

            You should enjoy your food. But unfortunately, that is harder than it sounds. This is the one area of difficulty. Food manufacturers have spent trillions of dollars in researching how to make foods highly addictive. There is irony that we know more about addiction than ever precisely at the moment that this knowledge is being used to make people addicted. As a former addict myself, I know the difference between enjoyment and addiction, between hunger and craving. But I get the sense that most people aren’t able to make this distinction, maybe because so many Americans have spent their entire lives addicted to one thing or another, such that it has become the normal state of mind in the modern West (the WEIRD that has come under scientific scrutiny as of recent).

            This is why it has become so difficult to be healthy in our society. We are immersed in an unhealthy environment, not only dietary but also toxins and stress and much else. Half the population is either pre-diabetic or diabetic, including adult-onset diabetes now being child-onset diabetes. Then there is such things as autism which is skyrocketing. Both of my nieces have been diagnosed with autism and my nephew appears to have it as well. Something extremely abnormal is going on. One thing I note is how addicted these kids are to simple carbs and sugar, mostly in the form of processed foods. They are all vegetarians and they all get plenty of grains and dairy. Yet they are constantly sick and have multiple health conditions. One of nieces is also OCD and has had nutritional problems. My nephew has had behavioral problems and is on an antidepressant. No kid in elementary school should be on antidepressants, especially considering we have no idea the effect they have on a developing brain. An entire generation is being used as guinea pigs.

            I’ve also faced my own health issues. They too began in childhood, maybe with depression first showing itself when I was quite young. If I was a kid today, I probably would have been put on multiple medications. My brother too is dealing with health issues, far more severe than my own: obesity, probably pre-diabetic or diabetic, probably heart disease, etc. Also, he has been having major joint and back problems, along with the cartilage on one foot breaking down. He is only in his forties. My parents and my grandparents didn’t have these kinds of health problems in their forties. In a recent visit, my brother told me it sucks getting old. I later thought about what he said and realized that the underlying message was that his health issues were inevitable and so there wasn’t really anything he could do about them. I’m sure that is the basic message his doctor gave him. Just take some medications and accept your fate of suffering and then dying from horrible chronic diseases. That is a depressingly sad way to go through one’s life.

            As you see, this isn’t only a personal issue. I care about my family and my friends. I care about those in my community. I care about what is becoming of society. Estimates show that with rising rates of disease that healthcare will be unaffordable in the near future. This is an epicemic of disease and we are reaching a point of crisis. Unless we consciously seek health, we won’t be healthy under these unhealthy conditions. That might be unfair, as past generations didn’t have to suffer in this way, didn’t have to constantly worry. Not that long ago, healthy and wholesome foods were easily found at your corner grocery store. Just a few generations ago, pastured milk, dairy and eggs and organic vegetables and fruit were what people ate everyday. Also, until about a century ago, unhealthy oils simply did not exist, as they hadn’t yet been invented by food manufacturers. Earlier generations didn’t have to try to be healthy, as the food system at the time naturally supported health. But that is no longer the case. That is unfair and that is also reality, specifically the reality we created or allowed others to create. If we want to change that, it will require conscious intention. Otherwise, we’ll go on suffering, which would have concrete repercussions, such as young Americans being the first generation that will die younger than their parents.

            On a positive note, we now know extremely simple changes in diet and lifestyle can have dramatic effects on health. So there is no reason to focus on the negative. We should be inspired by the fact that lively debate is going on, based on new scientific knowledge. It’s an exciting time to be alive. Why not make basic changes in your life that will make you healthier and happier? You don’t need to be perfect, as none of us are. Just relax about it. I know it can feel overwhelming at times. But the basic science is settled. For example, we know that sugar, simple carbs, unhealthy oils, and processed foods are highly dangerous. There is no debate about this, not even in conventional nutrition. Eating better will make you feel better. You have nothing to lose.

          • November 29, 2018 at 7:50 am #

            The problem with nutrition is that the majority of doctors get almost no education in nutrition. They are simply ignorant and they don’t know they are ignorant. This has been shown when testing the nutritional knowledge of doctors — almost all of them fail. So, what would a consensus opinion among doctors even mean, not that there is much in the way of a consensus. Mostly, doctors simply ignore nutrition, since it doesn’t fit either into their education or their paradigm. It’s not that most doctors disagree with any given part of the paleo diet. They largely know nothing about it. This article demonstrates that lack of knowledge, in that all that the author could do is use a stereotype of a paleo diet in order to make a straw man argument. As such, no real debate happens, not most of the time.

            Consider wheat and dairy. The average doctor has no informed opinion on the matter, not to say they don’t have an opinion. We know from mainstream science that wheat and dairy cause intestinal permeability, what in severe forms is called leaky gut. And we know that leaky gut relates to leaky brain. Dr. Tom O’Bryan, in You Can Fix Your Brain, has a great discussion of the scientific research into this. The disagreement isn’t over what mainstream science knows but over what doctors know and, sadly, few doctors know much of anything about nutrition. In decades past, talk about conditions like leaky gut was considered quackery by conventional doctors. But over time, the science has come into confirm that the ‘quacks’ were right. But the problem is, for older doctors, the last time they learned something new was a long time ago when they were in school, not that they ever knew much about nutrition.

            Also, consider how consensus sometimes forms. In reading Taubes and Teicholz, this is made clear. For centuries and into the 1960s, the consensus was that carbs were fattening, rather than fat. Even though there was strong disagreement in academia and research, Ancel Keys bypassed scientific debate by seeking supporters in government who then enforced Keys’ dietary dogma without any consensus. Along with others, he set up some of the main institutions who punished and silenced the remaining dissent in academia. That is until recent decades when dissenters began to be heard again and consensus began to break down. The point is that there never was any evidence in support of the government-enforced view. It always was smoke and mirrors. But for most doctors educated after the 1960, which at this point is most doctors, they have never been involved in actual scientific debate on nutrition, largely because they are simply uninformed about the science itself. It doesn’t matter that the paleo diet is based on some of the best science available. Doctors typically don’t know the science. And neither do their patients. It’s collective ignorance.

            “With the Hippocratic advice to “let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food,” how far have we strayed that the words of the founder of modern medicine can actually be threatening to conventional medicine?
            “Today medical schools in the United States offer, on average, only about nineteen hours of nutrition education over four years of medical school.10 Only 29 percent of U.S. medical schools offer the recommended twenty-five hours of nutrition education.11 A study in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health assessed the basic nutrition and health knowledge of medical school graduates entering a pediatric residency program and found that, on average, they answered only 52 percent of eighteen questions correctly.12 In short, most mainstream doctors would fail nutrition. So if you were wondering why someone in functional medicine, outside conventional medicine, is writing a book on how to use food for optimal health, this is why.
            “Expecting health guidance from mainstream medicine is akin to getting gardening advice from a mechanic. You can’t expect someone who wasn’t properly trained in a field to give sound advice. Brilliant physicians in the mainstream model of care are trained to diagnose a disease and match it with a corresponding pharmaceutical drug. This medicinal matching game works sometimes, but it often leaves the patient with nothing but a growing prescription list and growing health problems.
            “With the strong influence that the pharmaceutical industry has on government and conventional medical policy, it’s no secret that using foods to heal the body is not a priority of mainstream medicine. You only need to eat hospital food once to know this truth. Even more, under current laws it is illegal to say that foods can heal. That’ right. The words treat, cure, and prevent are in effect owned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the pharmaceutical industry and can be used in the health care setting only when talking about medications. This is the Orwellian world we live in today; health problems are on the rise even though we spend more on health care than ever, and getting healthy is considered radical and often labeled as quackery.”

            (10. K. Adams et al., “Nutrition Education in U.S. Medical Schools: Latest Update of a National Survey,” Academic Medicine 85, no. 9 (September 2010): 1537-1542,
            11. K. Adams et al., “The State of Nutrition Education at US Medical Schools,” Journal of Biomedical Education 2015 (2015), Article ID 357627, 7 pages,
            12. M. Castillo et al., “Basic Nutrition Knowledge of Recent Medical Graduates Entering a Pediatric Reside): 357-361, doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2015-0019,

            That is from Dr. Will Cole, in his recent book Ketotarian. The drastic increase of numerous diseases, from mood disorders to autoimmune disorders (including type 1 diabetes), indicates a serious problem is going on. According to the data, most Americans are following the USDA dietary recommendations. They are eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains than they were in the past. Over the same period, they’ve decreased their intake of red meat and saturated fats. Americans are mostly doing what is right according to conventional wisdom. The one thing they are doing wrong is consuming more sugar, which fits into the alternative view that sugar is the real threat and not fat (as shown when Ancel Keys original data was re-analyzed). Or rather sugar in combination with unhealthy oils, the very unhealthy oils conventional dietary advice has recommended. Americans have become so severely sickly precisely by following the exact opposite of the low-carb and ketogenic paleo diet.

          • November 28, 2018 at 11:00 am #

            I notice a delay in comments showing up here. I don’t know if all comments are moderated. A response of mine to the above comment was posted yesterday morning and, even though it clearly showed as posted, it hasn’t yet appeared.

          • Heidi
            November 26, 2018 at 10:07 am #

            TL;DR Going on a Paleo diet makes you post word salad essays as comments on really old posts and argue with people who don’t want to do your damn diet.

            Jellypants, eat your offal and attend your paleo symposiums. No one cares.

          • November 26, 2018 at 10:32 am #

            What you call “word salad” scientists call science. That is all I’m doing, reporting on what is known from scientific research. If science isn’t your thing, then why respond to comments about science?

            I assume you’re just being a troll. Either that or you’re still in elementary school or else the mental equivalent of elementary school. Whatever…

          • MaineJen
            November 26, 2018 at 10:35 am #

            No see…there are ACTUAL scientists here. That’s not gonna fly.

          • November 26, 2018 at 10:48 am #

            There are actual scientists all over the place. Numerous paleo advocate are scientists. But obviously, you aren’t interested in science. Maybe for you it is simply ideological dogmatism. As I said, whatever…

          • November 27, 2018 at 9:38 am #

            Actually, it was this site that turned my comment into word salad. I noticed that with another comment of mine. It looked differently on the editing page than when it was published. And no matter how many times I went back to the edit, it remained the same. There is something glitchy about this site.

          • November 27, 2018 at 9:42 am #

            I discovered a trick for getting around the glitch. The entire text is there but invisible. If you highlight the whole comment, all of the hidden text shows up.

          • November 24, 2018 at 11:49 pm #

            Let me make some additional points. First off, I don’t blame my parents for my health issues. Like so many others, they were doing their best. And of course, they were simply doing what they had been taught by their own parents, by doctors, and by officials. There was massive promotion of dietary guidelines by powerful organizations and by the government.


            In case anyone is interested, here are two other pieces I wrote on dietary issues, one about Weston A. Price and the other about atherosclerosis:


            Why would I blame my parents for systemic problems and collective failures? My parents, as teachers, taught me a love of learning. That is what prepared me well for life. Even though I came into this world ignorant as anyone else, even though I was miseducated like anyone else, the curiosity that my parents encouraged has since served me well in my continuous learning.

            It’s less about blame than it is about a sense of potential and possibility, the opportunity and hence choice to seek greater health. This doesn’t require solving all problems or spending lots of money. The simplest of changes can have dramatic results, such as avoiding high-carb-and-sugar junk food. It’s interesting that you bring up the notion that one might blame one’s parents, as my own parents have joined me in seeking to improve their own diets. My dad has been doing a variation of the paleo diet along with me while my mom has chosen to focus on the FODMAP diet. My parents have always supported me and, in turn, I support them. It’s caring for others that motivates so many advocates of healthier living.

            On another note, I found something of interest related to the nutritional perspective. The replication crisis has gained much attention this past decade, although the crisis in unacknowledged form existed long before that. This replication crisis seems to be effecting every field of study, from economics to genetics, but health-related fields really stand out. Medical science is well known for being low quality. And this has impacted nutritional research as well.


            But there are those seeking to improve the situation. In one article, I noticed Gary Taubes mentioned. He wrote a some highly influential books on dietary fats and cholesterol. It was his scientific journalism that helped challenge the dominant paradigm. His books are amazing in putting the situation into a historical context, making clear how we got to this point.


            “The Nutrition Science Initiative, started by science journalist Gary Taube, received an impressive commitment of $35.5 million last year from the funder to continue its hunt for more rigorous and reliable data on food and health.”

            So, it’s not all about blaming and complaining. There is reason for hope. If and when we have the political will and public demand, the needed changes will happen for our society.

  13. Helga Vierich
    August 9, 2016 at 10:30 am #

    “Flat growth” of human populations was highly adaptive. It is what most species have. It permits the species to remain within it’s adaptive niche without overwhelming the ecosystem. Humans evolved as a keystone species (like beavers and wolves) who generated positive trophic flows. This means the presence of humans and their activities increased the diversity of plants and animals and produced a a rich mosaic of ecological communities at varying stages of natural succession. They used small patches of burning, as well as deliberate replanting of desired species, to do this.

    “Flat growth” also reflected the fair high level of infant and childhood mortality that characterized human populations – even in much of the Holocene – before the development of vaccines and antibiotics. Life span, a species specific trait, has not increased, but life expectancy certainly has.

    The diseases of “civilization” due to changes in diet and activity, as well as exposure to toxins, that did not characterize most of the Palaeolithic, or even, if you like, most of the Holocene. We were hardly ever obese, inactive, or diabetic before the current era. But the lack of processed cheese doodles or hotdogs, like the lack of living room couches and armchairs and desk jobs, was not what brought humans to the brink of extinction in the past. It was not the “lifestyle” – it was the tumultuous recurrent cycles of glacial advance and – in Africa – massive killer droughts (especially between 134,000 and 74,000) punctuated by volcanic explosions – that reduced humans, again and again, to small numbers clinging to refuges here and there.

    • Linden
      August 9, 2016 at 11:24 am #

      I’ll take the diseases of civilisation against the paleolothic ones any day.
      I would also prefer being obese to starving. Interestingly, I live in a civilised era, yet I am not obese.
      The surviving members of the human race tend to agree with me. Not having a flat growth in human populations means we have the numbers, leisure to develop things like vaccines, and birth control and agriculture and waste control.
      I’m sitting here with my toddler, who is eating fish fingers and kiwi, and wondering how on *earth* people think life was somehow better when humanity was a few million individuals. I’m healthier than women of Any other century. I want this to be true of every individual on earth. And that’s going to take more technology, more science, better resource distribution, political change, an awareness of environmental impacts, good planning.

      We’re here, there’s billions of us. We’re not going away. What’cha gonna do about it?

      • Helga Vierich
        August 9, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

        Hunter-gatherers have plenty of leisure time. They spend it playing with their children, having dances, going on long visits with friends and relatives, having long conversations about all sort son things, and generally relaxing.

        The have perfectly adequate “waste control”, and the camping parties of hunter-gatherers are not full of fleas, flies, mites, ticks, mice and other vermin.. nor do they stink of accumulated human waste. All of these problems ARE however common to sedentary villages. You only NEED waste control when it does become a major issue, you only need to develop sanitation technologies and practices when you are living in one place long enough for it to become a real health hazard. You only NEED to develop domesticated plants and animals when you stay in one place long enough to cause local wild species to become scarce and/or to develop toxins or levels of aggression that makes feeding yourself time consuming and dangerous. You only NEED to develop vaccines when your population density permits a persistent reservoir for reinfection to develop.

        If you want to deny science – to deny all the evidence that the present population of the planet is sustainable at present rates of resource use and extraction, then fine. But I don’t have to agree with you, now do I?

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          August 9, 2016 at 4:43 pm #

          And yet every single health parameter you could possible measure was execrable. Clearly it wasn’t paradise; it was much closer to hell.

          • JuHoansi
            September 14, 2016 at 3:15 am #

            Please name the health parameters for Paleolithic peoples, and cite your sources..

        • Deborah
          August 9, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

          “Hunter – gatherers have plenty of leisure time. They spend it playing with their children, having dances, going on long visits with friends and relatives, having long conversations about all sorts of things, and generally relaxing.”
          I find it incredible whenever I hear people superimpose the lived experience of mostly white, affluent, middle to upper class people of the modern world onto the perceived experience of primitive cultures.

          • JuHoansi
            September 14, 2016 at 3:13 am #

            This is fact. It’s basic anthropology 101. Instead of mouthing off about something you obviously know nothing about, why don’t you crack open a book about hunter gatherers. Or better yet, go into the field yourself and visit extant groups like the Hadza in Tanzania or the Paliyan in India. They’d be happy to burst your Hobbesian bubble.

          • Irène Delse
            September 14, 2016 at 5:15 am #

            Oh, come on. It’s not Anthropology 101, it’s Pop Anthropology! It’s easy to say “look, hunter-gatherers live a life of leasure” if you only consider a few well-publicised exemples. Like the last people off the Earth to make a living from hunting-gathering only, in deserts and mountains where agriculture is less efficient…

            Although one can’t help notice that the Paliyan people mostly work in agriculture and commerce, now. Maybe they think adapting to a new mode of living is worth it!

            As for the Hadza, I’m sorry… You’re misrepresenting what is one of the most precarious ways of life on the planet. They do make a living as hunter-gatherers, but they’re on the knife’s edge. Honey is one of their main source of calories, remember? It means they don’t have much meat or plants to eat. And they don’t practice apiculture. There was a paper recently describing how a Hadza man followed a bird to get at a wild beehive, made a fire to chase the bees, ate the honey – and then burned the combs with the bee larvae so that the bird would have nothing to eat and thus be keen to find new beehives for the Hadza.

          • JuHoansi
            September 14, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

            More bullshit. “Paliyan people mostly work in agriculture and commerce, now.” Key word is “now”. “Maybe they think adapting to a new mode of living is worth it!” If you think they transitioned to ag willingly, I’ve got some swampland in Florida you may be interested in.
            Hadza: “They do make a living as hunter-gatherers, but they’re on the knife’s
            edge. Honey is one of their main source of calories, remember?”
            What knife edge? By all accounts the Hadza are in generally good health. Their main source of calories is still wild game, even if game has diminished in recent years, thanks to, guess who?
            This isn’t ‘pop anthropology’. It’s basic ethnography and data gathering.

          • Deborah
            September 14, 2016 at 10:19 pm #

            I think you have missed my point entirely.
            I think it is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst to suggest that hunter – gatherer societies are “just like us” which is what Helga’s statement implies.
            They are radically different and certainly not inferior but my point was that they are often romanticised.
            Aboriginal Australian women worked constantly and did not enjoy “leisure time” as we understand the term. Their children were ( and largely still are) raised communally with very different family structure to ours and very little time was spent “playing with them” in the context of a modern, western, affluent family as Helga’s statement inferred. “Having dances” must be a reference to the ceremonial rituals which form the basis of the society and are integral to any hunting or food gathering endeavour. It was not an enjoyable past-time or a fun thing to do socially but rather, a critical necessity to ensure the survival of the group. The “long conversations about all sorts of things” in the Australian Aboriginal context, must be a reference to the oral traditions and stories about the Dreamtime being handed down to future generations, not friendly chats, toasting marshmellows over a campfire. “Generally relaxing”. No. Constant tribal warfare – which still exists today among the hugely diverse groups of Aboriginal people in Australia – : the never-ending burden, for women especially, to forage for food, and the ever-present fear of sickness and childbirth complications, evidenced by the myriad secret rituals and ceremonies developed over thousands of years in hope of warding them off.
            I work with Aboriginal people and I have a deep respect for their culture and traditions. I am proud of our government’s efforts to reconcile with the traditional owners of Australia while also acknowledging that we have a long way to go. I just have a problem with romanticising what life was like for cultures thousands of years ago and trying to draw unrealistic parallels between cultures which are poles apart. I meant no offence.

          • JuHoansi
            September 15, 2016 at 4:25 am #

            I think you missed Helga’s point entirely, and I fail to see how she (or I) was saying or implying that hunter gatherers are ‘just like us’ (?). Helga was contrasting H-G camp life with sedentary village life, and why certain practices develop in response to aspects of living a sedentary life.

            If Helga is guilty of anything, it’s probably making too general a claim about all hunter gatherers. Some, perhaps most, did have leisure time, while others do and did eek out a living. Of course many H-G groups did not survive into the holocene.

            As for Australian aborigines the same case by case would apply. In areas of abundance, there would not be an endless search for food or ‘working constantly’. Early white colonists reportedly felt aboriginal camps were “casual” and that they did not work hard. It’s doubtful hunter gathers in general even divide life up into ‘work’ and ‘leisure’ as Western industrialized peoples do.

            Your characterization of Australian aborigine lives as being nasty, brutish, and short, with constant warfare, and a never ending burden to forage for food, and where everyone is miserable all the time, is quite frankly, a dishonest stereotype of its own. And judging from the topic of Amy’s article, and most of the ignorant responses here, I see little evidence or danger of ‘romanticizing’ hunter gatherers. It seems the opposite is still unfortunately the case. I thought we had grown past this, and were more enlightened now. Apparently not.

          • Deborah
            September 15, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

            This is a section of a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission where you will find a reference to pre-colonial Aboriginal Australian women working constantly.
            I don’t think we will be able to establish where each of us is coming from – I was simply expressing my opinion on the romanticising of earlier times and cultures in my
            interpretation of Helga’s opening statement. Many people (usually white, privileged, wealthy people who can afford it) do actually do this as demonstrated by the modern trend of aspiring to do all things “as nature intended” without the corresponding understanding that the lifestyle and practices aspired to were often extremely perilous. The majority of the regulars here will not be of this persuasion as many of them found their way here through disillusionment with homebirth ideology. The author of this blog works hard to dismantle this ideology as the perinatal death rate continues to climb at an alarming rate because of it.
            I work with Aboriginal people. I do not like to stereotype anyone, much less the people I love and serve, but it is a fact, little known to the average health care practitioner, that tribal factions continue to exist among diverse Aboriginal family groups. This is the reason why we cannot simply place all Aboriginal people together in the same ward, as some staff assume (well, they’re all Aboriginal aren’t they?) and must place them apart to reduce the possibility of contact with each other. We organise appointments specifically to avoid the chance of them inadvertently bumping into each other while on hospital grounds.
            We can be enlightened without being starry eyed.

          • JuHoansi
            September 16, 2016 at 11:11 pm #

            The passage where it is stated that “before white settlement women worked constantly” is taken from the book Daughters of the Dreamtime (1983, p.46) by Diane Bell. It is a throwaway line in Chapter II Change and Continuity. It is not a quote from an elder, and the assertion is unsupported by any references or footnotes. ‘Work’ is undefined, as is ‘constantly’. It essentially proves nothing.

          • Deborah
            September 19, 2016 at 8:03 pm #

            Hello again internet friend 🙂
            I think we are splitting hairs now but here goes anyway.
            Diane Bell is a well respected anthropologist with a Ph.D and decades of experience working and living in the field. If she has formed the view or reached the conclusion that these early Aboriginal women worked constantly and carried the burden of foraging for food, I don’t think it is reasonable to dismiss it as a “throwaway line”. It was also interesting to read in her foreward to the third edition of the same book (2002) “……new age romances of lost tribes and the wisdom of Rousseauian natives are consumed by westerners hungry for spiritual sustenance.”
            The point I have been making all along.

          • JuHoansi
            September 20, 2016 at 4:32 am #

            Except she, and you, have got nothing to back up her assertion. You are merely appealing to authority.

          • November 16, 2018 at 9:38 am #

            Australian Aborigines, as we now know, had been transitioning into agriculture the past few millennia. They weren’t merely hunter-gatherers when Europeans me them.

        • Nick Sanders
          August 9, 2016 at 9:44 pm #

          Oh, and here we hear the tale of the Noble Savage. Please, continue telling us the joys of primitivism over the internet.

          • Reality022
            August 9, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

            Well, from her avatar it is plainly obvious she dresses in nothing but the finest bear skins available on Rodeo Drive.

          • JuHoansi
            September 14, 2016 at 3:11 am #

            You gotta problem?

        • MaineJen
          August 9, 2016 at 10:22 pm #

          I think you meant to say, the hunter gatherers that *survive to adulthood* had plenty of leisure time. As you pointed out yourself, many died in infancy and early childhood. Is this a circumstance that we should be romanticizing, or yearning to recreate? I know you think so (no doubt you believe that *you* would be one of the lucky few who survived), but I don’t have to agree with you either.

          • November 16, 2018 at 9:36 am #

            Most hunter-gatherers who die in childbirth, infancy, and childhood do so because of infectious diseases spread and introduced by agricultural populations.

        • Linden
          August 10, 2016 at 9:03 am #

          Go on, handmaiden of science, enlighten us about how the problems of billions of people will be solved by returning to your hunter gatherer societies. Do be clear about how this will be brought about, and just contraception won’t be the answer. Show us your education hasn’t just led to this intellectual masturbation, that you will be more useful to humanity, with the oncoming global catastrophe, than my 75 year old mother, who has a wealth of information about hunting, living in the wild, food preservation and so forth.
          Your described idyll is so bonkers. These people died, and I can’t say in huge numbers, because they could never reach huge numbers. They died of starvation and diseases of malnutrition. They died in childbirth. They died of accidents and illness. They lived horribly short and painful lives. If some cataclysm occurred and billions died, they’d still huddle together and try to rebuild from whatever was left in the wreckage. Nobody would be trying to recreate your perfect society, because we are not thick.

          • JuHoansi
            September 14, 2016 at 3:10 am #

            Oh God what nonsense. The Hobbesian Myth is strong with this one. As if people don’t starve now, as if no one dies in childbirth now, as if you could possibly even know whether Paleolithic peoples lived “horribly short and painful lives”. As if you know even the first thing about Paleolithic life. Please pick up a first year book on anthropology. I can’t believe people are still this ignorant in 2016.

      • November 16, 2018 at 9:35 am #

        Hunter-gatherers rarely starved. Starvation only became common with agriculture.

    • Nick Sanders
      August 9, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

      Do I hear the sweet, sweet sounds of biological essentialism?

    • Poogles
      August 15, 2016 at 12:14 am #

      “We were hardly ever obese, inactive, or diabetic”

      Well, yeah, it’s pretty hard to be obese or inactive when you have to spend most of your waking hours hunting or gathering enough food to survive.

      As far as diabetes…how would we even know that? Without modern diagnostics, how would they have known that the person was dying from diabetes? People just died and it was blamed on curses or gods or humors or demons or whatever that particular culture believed at that time.

      • JuHoansi
        September 14, 2016 at 3:03 am #

        Source for the claim that we “spent most of our waking hours hunting and gathering enough food to survive’?

      • November 16, 2018 at 9:34 am #

        The evidence is that hunter-gatherers spend less time doing work. This issue no longer debated among anthropologists. It is a well known fact at this point.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          November 16, 2018 at 9:43 am #

          Evidenctly you’re a paleo-sucker.

          • November 16, 2018 at 10:17 am #

            Apparently, I’ve read more than you. So, a paleo-sucker is someone who isn’t a complete ignoramus. Got it! Thanks.

          • November 16, 2018 at 2:59 pm #

            Instead of beating on straw men as a form of ideological entertainment, why not engage with paleo advocates in a debate over the scientific evidence. That is what Paleo advocates do among themselves, as there is an immense amount of evidence that gets interpreted in many ways. It doesn’t seem like a happy or profitable use of one’s time to simply attack others and dismiss their views out of hand without any curiosity toward understanding.

        • Poogles
          January 10, 2019 at 3:41 pm #

          *Citation needed

          • January 10, 2019 at 4:40 pm #

            As a general policy, I don’t respond to demands for info on the internet. In my experience, people who sincerely seek knowledge with open-minded curiosity tend to easily educate themselves. Whereas those who demand others obey their requests tend to be people who don’t actually who want new info. I tend toward that conclusion particularly in cases like this when it is info so easily found online for those who want to find it.

          • Poogles
            January 10, 2019 at 6:11 pm #

            “I don’t respond to demands for info on the internet. […] those who demand others obey their requests tend to be people who don’t actually who want new info.”

            You made the claim (“evidence is that hunter-gatherers spend less time doing work. This issue no longer debated among anthropologists. It is a well known fact at this point.”), so the burden of proof is on you, it’s that simple. Has nothing to do “demanding you obey my request for info” (LMAO) – it’s just basic etiquette if you want to have any actual discussion or debate, whether online or IRL.

          • January 10, 2019 at 7:15 pm #

            I’ve found that random strangers online making demands of info are usually insincere. If I saw evidence of genuine curiosity, I’d engage. But I’ve been down that road too many times. It rarely pays off with interesting discussion. My time is limited and I have better things to do. Take that as you will. It’s irrelevant to me.

          • Poogles
            January 10, 2019 at 6:29 pm #

            “I tend toward that conclusion particularly in cases like this when it is info so easily found online for those who want to find it.”

            And here’s why the person who makes the claim has to provide the evidence – I did a Google search, and everything I am finding says you are wrong, that hunter-gatherers have a very high level of activity/exercise (i.e. – “spend more time doing work”):

            “The Hadza live a very different kind of lifestyle — and a very active one, engaging in significantly more physical activity than what is recommended by U.S. government standards. They also have extremely low risk of cardiovascular disease.”


            “Our heart rate measures of Hadza adults indicate remarkably high levels of daily physical activity, again mostly at low and moderate intensities 7. Hadza adults accumulate over ~135 min of moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day, several times more than adults in the USA and Europe 7 (Fig. 2). Objectively measured MVPA among Hadza men and women remains high throughout adulthood, with no apparent age‐related decline 7.”


            “As expected, physical activity level, PAL, was greater among Hadza foragers than among Westerners.”


            Now, it is possible that you were referring to the finding that although hunter-gatherers certainly have higher levels of activity, it doesn’t seem to translate to *higher levels of energy expended* – which would directly effect obesity. This, of course, is not what you said, and since you did not include evidence for your claim, I had no way of knowing this.

          • January 10, 2019 at 7:24 pm #

            I never claimed that did no physical activity. But very little of it is work. Most of it involves social activity as part of a close-knit community. The point is that it requires little effort for them to do what they need for survival. Some tribes will spend days dancing and nothing else. It’s a simple fact well attested in the anthropological literature.

          • January 11, 2019 at 8:24 am #

            In saying this, I’m not romanticizing the noble savage. There are good and bad things about many kinds of societies. Hunter-gatherers don’t work much and maybe we could learn from that, considering our present society is drowning in what some call “bullshit jobs” which simply are used as social control to keep the masses busy.

            Even so, I can’t say I necessarily feel inclined to do nothing but dance for several days. I was born and raised in modern industrialized society. This shapes what feels normal to me, good or bad.

            For example, as an introvert who likes my alone time, I likely wouldn’t adapt well at this point to a highly communal society where there was little privacy. But I probably wouldn’t have the severe depression I was diagnosed with decades ago if I had spent my life in such a close society. Is greater privacy a fair gain in exchange for the modern high rates of mood disorders?

  14. Megan
    August 9, 2016 at 10:22 am #

    I admit I have not read all of the comments but I am always amazed at the fervor with which people defend their diets.
    Disclaimer: I am a vegetarian, used to be vegan til it didn’t suit me (and I acknowledge that my diet will likely change many more times in the future as my circumstances change), and even I would not defend my dietary choices against criticism other than to say, “I’ve done a lot of different things with my diet in the past and this is what I like best right now. Maybe it isn’t the ‘best’ diet out there, but I’m happy with it. You should obviously eat whatever you want.”

    • Linden
      August 9, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

      I’m a pescetarian, was a vegetarian for two decades. I became vegetarian for ethical reasons. Those reasons have not gone away, but I’ve had to modify my diet around my health and my family.

      Food has always been a means of “virtue signalling”.

    • Amy
      August 9, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

      I’m with you! I’ve variously been a vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, and what I am right now, an omnivore who has 0-3 servings of meat a week and gets eggs, dairy, and fish exclusively from local farms and fisheries. *Because it works for my family and suits us.* Doesn’t make us better people or healthier people, although we definitely enjoy how our food tastes and think the extra time spent shopping at five different locations and cooking from scratch is worth it (at the expense of other pursuits, of course). I’m happy to share recipes and food sources when people ask, but ONLY when they ask.

    • November 16, 2018 at 10:19 am #

      I’m amazed that there are people like the author who vehemently attack that which they are ignorant of. I’m not surprised, though, by those who are offended by ignorance.

  15. Amy
    August 9, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    Ahh, yes. Paleolithic people absolutely had access to olive oil and coconut flour. Nothing unprocessed or technological about either of those.

    • Galen Rutledge
      August 9, 2016 at 10:59 am #

      Neither coconut flour nor olive oil are nutritionally different from their parent products, both of which are foods suitable for the human body.
      On one hand, dessicated coconut, and on the other, the oil you would get by pressing olives by hand.

      Eating olives or eating coconut would not have a significantly different impact on the human body.

      Soy beans, canola oil, rice oil or corn oil – they require massive infrastructure to produce and make edible (variously) and could simply not be consumed in quantity prior to the modern age. The end result is vastly different from the parent product, and is a new thing to the human body.

      • fiftyfifty1
        August 9, 2016 at 11:32 am #

        “Neither coconut flour nor olive oil are nutritionally different from their parent products”

        And both were eaten only in tiny areas in the world by a fraction of the world’s population…

        • Galen Rutledge
          August 9, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

          Good. So what?

          • fiftyfifty1
            August 9, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

            So telling people that olive oil and coconut flour, or even olives and coconuts are what our paleo ancestors ate is untrue.

          • Galen Rutledge
            January 24, 2017 at 9:47 pm #

            It’s a diet, not a history lesson.

            I am LCHF anyhow, which is effectively identical to the paleo diet, so they are perfectly compatible.

            Coconuts and olives require minimal processing, and can be grown and processed by human beings in a practical way, and are compatible with human metabolism.

            Olives and coconuts were not accessible to everyone in the paleo era, but I don’t think Paleo dieters claim the foods had to be.

          • Nick Sanders
            January 24, 2017 at 9:57 pm #

            but I don’t think Paleo dieters claim the foods had to be.

            You think wrong. The whole idea behind the diet is to “eat what our what we evolved eating”.

          • fiftyfifty1
            January 24, 2017 at 10:08 pm #

            “Coconuts and olives require minimal processing”

            LOL. You have obviously never processed either. Coconut processing is very laborious, olive processing even more so. Olives can’t even be eaten in a normal state. They have to be either brined or lye treated first. Olive oil is a extracted in a laborious multi-step process (and a multistep *process* is the very definition of *processed* no?)

            You know what’s a hell of a lot less processed than either? Cornmeal.

      • Amy
        August 9, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

        Are you kidding? People in the paleolithic era didn’t have the luxury to synthesize olive oil or coconut flour. While olive oil was absolutely used extensively prior to the “modern era,” however you want to define that, it certainly wasn’t used prior to the advent of agriculture. The development of coconut flour, however, dates to the mid to late 20th century.

        If how “nutritionally different” they are (or aren’t) is what distinguishes paleo-approved items from those that aren’t, then there would be a lot more foods allowed on the paleo diet.

        • Galen Rutledge
          August 9, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

          Such as?

          • Amy
            August 10, 2016 at 9:44 am #

            Let’s take one really easy example– sweeteners. There are loads of pro-paleo sites giving recommendations and guidance on “paleo-approved” sweeteners, ingredients such as agave, honey, and maple syrup. If sugar isn’t good for you, guess what, neither are “natural” sweeteners. (Note I’m not saying that I think honey in particular is “bad” for people– I consume it daily and it does help with my local seasonal allergies. But I’m not under some illusion that it’s a healthier replacement for sugar. The healthy replacement for sugar is less or no sugar.)

            What I find funniest is that grade B syrup is recommended over lighter grades. How’s that supposed to jive with minimally or less processed? I’m a lifelong New Englander and thus intimately familiar with using maple instead of other sugars as a sweetener. The darker the syrup, the MORE it’s been processed.

          • demodocus
            August 10, 2016 at 10:09 am #

            maybe they’re confusing it with grains?
            -another Yankee

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            August 10, 2016 at 10:15 am #

            Grade B or, even better, grade C maple syrup is tastier on pancakes. That is its only advantage.

          • Amy
            August 11, 2016 at 8:19 am #

            Also more flavorful for cooking. We always have a big jug of the stuff kicking around for making maple ice cream and maple scones.

          • Galen Rutledge
            January 24, 2017 at 9:20 pm #

            I agree. Most of the things you listed are high in fructose.

            In small and/or infrequent amounts those sweeteners can be tolerated, but consuming large amounts of refined sugars over a long period of time causes several metabolic disorders.

          • Nick Sanders
            January 24, 2017 at 9:32 pm #

            Consuming excess sugar over long periods of time causes problems, yes, but mostly obesity related ones. And whether they are refined or not is completely irrelevant.

          • November 16, 2018 at 3:39 pm #

            Most paleo dieters don’t use sweeteners. For those who do recommend them, they are mostly only recommending them as an occasional food. But there are some hunter-gatherers who do eat a fair amount of natural sweeteners, such as the Hadza love of honey.

      • Chant de la Mer
        August 9, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

        There’s this neat thing called adaptation that allows living organisms to adapt to changing conditions. This applies to food supply as well as environmental/social/etc. What that means is that humans, being one of the more successful adaptive organisms currently alive, can adapt to a changing food supply.

        • Galen Rutledge
          August 9, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

          Good, but you have not demonstrated adaptation to a modern SAD diet. In fact the global dietary experiment with the modern high availability of the foods excluded on paleo suggests otherwise – with the rise of obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

          Interestingly the obesity and diabetes have been successfully reversed with paleo or LCHF.

        • Galen Rutledge
          January 24, 2017 at 9:59 pm #


          However adaptation often comes with consequences.

          Right now we are seeing the consequences of a diet we are not yet adapted to. Obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes – these are the metabolic consequences of a diet we have not adapted to.

          • Nick Sanders
            January 26, 2017 at 1:03 am #

            1.) You’re replying for a second time to a 6 month old comment. That’s just poor form.

            2.) They are the consequences of too many calories and too little exercise, for obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, living past 40, for cancer, and injectable insulin allowing survival past 20, for type 1 diabetes.

      • Montserrat Blanco
        August 10, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

        No, they did not have olives, so no olive oil either.

        Olive trees were selected later from the wild bush, excuse me if I do not know the name in English, I am Spanish (a place with a lot of olive trees and olive oil), and the Spanish name of the ancestor of the olive tree is the acebuche. You can find a lot of acebuches bushes around at the south of Spain and their fruits are completely inedible.

        The Paleolitic ended 12000 years ago. The olive tree was “domesticated” between 8000 and 6000 years ago, during the Neolitic era by the farmers at that time.

        Most of the fruits and vegetables that we have today are extremely different from the ones available at the Paleolitic. The original wheat that Genghis Khan soldiers used had less grains than the one we have today, so even the available foods are pretty different of what we were eating 1000 years ago, not to mention 10000 or 100000 years ago.

        Probably cod and mackerel and seabass are not extremely different of what they were 15000 years ago, but do not even get me started on cows…

        • MaineJen
          August 10, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

          Here, MB, you dropped this mic…let me get it for you

    • monojo
      August 13, 2016 at 2:49 am #

      And brown rice syrup for their paleo cupcakes!

  16. lilyluna
    August 8, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

    I’m an archaeologist and the whole “paleo” diet makes me crack up. These people wouldn’t know paleo if it smacked them across the face. What they are eating are items from various places that no paleo era person would have been able to eat together, nor were these items what they are today – genetic interference by humans has changed most everything that existed during the Paleolithic Era. And there would be a lot more meat products in their diet.

    • Galen Rutledge
      August 8, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

      So what?

      The paleo diet is not supposed to be a dietary historical re-creation of the paleolithic era. Is that really what you are claiming it is?

      The paleo diet is a dietary philosophy which espouses a set of guidelines excluding heavily processed foods, and foods that would not have been in a form humans could eat in quantity at that time.

      You archeology qualifications mean about as much to the paleo diet as a weapons professionals qualifications mean to the bulletproof diet.

      Hint; the bulletproof diet is about as protective against gunfire as the paleo diet is a faithful recreation of cavemen diets.

      If you think paleo dieters are trying to eat or live EXACTLY as cave people did, as it appears Amy Tuteur does (sheesh), then you just don’t understand at all.

      • lilyluna
        August 8, 2016 at 11:29 pm #

        Really? Then why do most websites about the paleo diet claim just this? A simple Google search brought up a half dozen sites stating that this diet is supposed to mimic what paleolithic peoples ate. In no way does it at all resemble even closely how they ate. If you’re going to name something, try being accurate. Paleo is not even close to an accurate name.