In the sea of information out there on nutrition and diet, the paleo diet and variations of it, is one of the better diet ideas around. This article explains WHY the paleo is a relative success compared to most diets but also shows why it is flawed and why it is not the healthiest diet for everyone.
There are a few things wrong with the advice given in the various paleo but the biggest glaring issue is a problem with most of the nutritional advice that is given today. I chose this diet to illustrate the point because I consider it to be the best of the rest in dietary terms.
After I have shown you the major flaw with not just the paleo diet but with all nutrition and a few more minor issues - I want to show you your best shot in shooting for the healthiest diet - a diet I have been following for years.
Let's get started.
The idea of eating foods that were available to man in the Paleolithic or 'caveman' era is a very good theory because it takes a long time for our metabolisms to evolve and adapt to nutrition.
All we are is cavemen in suits. We may evolve fast in other areas but our metabolisms are slow to catch up. So I agree that what we were eating as cavemen (if we really did live in caves) is basically what we should be eating now. Nutritionally speaking we are slow to evolve.
The paleo diet seems to work well for a lot of people at least for a time but like all diets out there - the paleo diet doesn't work for everyone.
The main reason I'm a fan of the paleo diet is because it only allows whole foods - so it's great for getting people off the processed, artificial crap that the masses are eating and back to eating real food again.
This, however is where me being a fan of it ends.
There is plenty of information on the variations of the so called Paleo Diet here. And in this article when I use the term 'paleo diet' I am refering to one of these variations of it.
To clarify, the paleo diet is good for one thing and that is:
It helps a person move from eating a processed, non food, crap diet to a whole foods way of eating real food again.
After that I'm afraid it's pot luck as to whether or not the paleo diet or any other nutrition plan hits on the foods and ratios that are right for your genetics.
The paleo diet is not the magic diet for everyone and it's certainly not the answer to all of our health problems as some claim it to be.
The reason there are so many diets out there today is because no one has come up with the one diet that works for everyone - that diet doesn't exist.
Practically all diets work for someone but none work for everyone and that is a fact.
There have been many books written on the paleo diet by the likes of Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, Art De Vany and Ray Audette among others.
They all have a slightly different take on why their pale diet is the one we should all be eating - making a variation of the so called 'caveman diet' - then writing a book on it and selling further cookbooks etc on the same subject. I'm not dissing their work but in my opinion they all make a glaring mistake.
Over the last century there have been two fundamental facts in the study of human nutrition that have kept coming up over and over again and they are:
If these two fundamentals are not applied to any diet plan - that diet plan will come down to luck as to whether it works or not.
These fundamental facts didn't just come from someone who had a theory or idea and decided to write a book on it. They came from the work of nutritional pioneers and researchers such as Dr Weston Price, Dr Roger Williams, Francis Pottenger MD, Dr George Watson and others.
So as you can see the 'glaring mistake' with not just the paleo diet but with nearly all diets - is that they violate fundamental fact number two.
They fail to recognise that we are all different. They treat everyone from a 'one size fits all' standpoint and suggest that back in the day we all ate and evolved on the same foods.
This is clearly not the case as humans lived all over this planet and evolved to eat the different foods - which were available to them in the area in which they lived.
When they veered away from eating these foods they would suffer from ill health and the same degenerative diseases that are rife in civilized areas today.
I could go on and on but I'm sure you're getting my point, that we are all different and require different foods to be healthy and this explains why all diets including the paleo diet will work for some but not for others and whether it works for you or not will come down to luck.
So now we have identified what the glaring issue is with the paleo diet and vitually all other diets out there, let's take a look at some of the other points that are worth disputing with the this diet.
We've established the biggest blunder of the paleo diet recommendations is the violation of fundamental nutrition fact number two which states:Each person has totally different nutritional requirements for food based on their genetics.
We are all different so a diet that is meant for everyone will never work for everyone.
I agree that imitation dairy - the store bought, pasteurised variety that comes from animals which have been fed everything except what they are meant to eat (grass)and pumped full of antibiotics because of how sick they are - is unsuitable for human consumption.
If there was ever anything that was any good in this kind of milk - it was killed by the pasteurisation process. Also people who are genuinely allergic or sensitive to dairy should give it a wide birth.
But on the other hand raw, unpasteurised grass fed dairy is a very healthy food that some people thrive on - 'some people' again being the key phrase that is very significant.
Weston Price noted numerous tribes who thrived on raw, unpasteurised dairy food from grass fed animals. The Masia, Muhima, Baitu, various tribes along the Nile and the isolated Swiss people from the Loetschental Valley. So clearly dairy isn't bad for everyone.
The problem with this is that most of us need salt. However, people with a slow oxidation rate do not. I agree that no one needs the refined, bleached sodium chloride kind of salt that is abundant in our supermarkets but unrefined sea salt is untouched and comes with a multitude of minerals and trace minerals that support health.
Unrefined sea salt will not imbalance our mineral intake with only sodium and chloride as refined salt does. And it is a very healthful condiment for 'some' people and is an excellent source of magnesium and potassium.
The Eskimo people ate 8-10 pounds of fatty meat per day and were totally free of heart disease and didn't have a word in their language for cancer. Weston Price said that the health of the Eskimo people was amongst the best he had encountered on his travels around the globe and wanted to know their 'nutrition formula' so that we could learn from them.
Vilhjalmur Stefansson in his book 'My Life with the Eskimo' said that there were periods when he and the Eskimos became ill after they had to resort to eating lean fatless meat for a few weeks when skinny Caribou that was all that was available. So clearly saturated fat isn't bad for everyone and is an absolute health food for 'some'.
The bottom line is that saturated fat is essential for health in many people and is excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin D and assures intake of vitamin B12. Saturated fatty acids are the body's natural fats and are necessary for cell membrane function and are critical energy for many organs including the heart.
Please don't fall for this one. Cholesterol is the body's repair substance, is needed for hormone balance and production including testosterone, bile acids for digestion, for proper brain and nervous system function and is critically important for all life supporting functions. It is not the villain and cause of heart disease as we have been told for decades.
Cholesterol in our bodies increases during middle age then decreases in old age but there is a wide range of other factors which can affect our cholesterol levels such as:
Cholesterol is blamed for heart disease but there are many heart attack victims who have low cholesterol. If saturated fat causes high cholesterol which in turn causes heart attacks - how didn't all the Eskimos die of heart disease?
The 'experts' have blamed cholesterol in heart disease because they observe it to be hich in tests and examinations but this is like blaming the police for being present at a motor accident or blaming fire fighters for starting the fire just because they're at the scene of the fire.
It is worth noting that drug companies make billions of dollars from cholesterol lowering drugs.
The paleo diet is again way wide of the mark on this one because lots of people absolutely thrive on these types of foods me included.
I used to follow a low fat diet and I was in very poor health. I have been eating these types of food for seven years now and I have reversed all of my health problems and I have never felt better.
But it would be wrong for me to recommend these types of foods for everyone because they will not be right for everyone and I realize that there are 'some' people for whom eating these foods would have a detrimental effect.
Giving nutritional recommendations to all people as the paleo diet does can have a disastrous effect on health for 'some' people. We all evolved differently from different types of people who lived in different parts of the world where different foods were available. I don't believe it's a mistake that eating the foods that are right for our genetics and eliminating the foods that are not - has a huge effect on our health and energy.
The answer is to find our own specific nutritional requirements. But this poses a little problem because if we wanted to identify our individual genetic heritage we would have to trace our family tree back for tens of thousands of years and as you know this is impossible.
We can however, discover how to measure our metabolic function by developing scientific tools to help us achieve that. Thankfully these tools already exist in the form of tests but they are still being developed and are very much in their infancy and when they will become available is unknown.
What we currently have are tests that measure how our genes are expressing themselves now and these tests may be even more valuable and superior to specific DNA tests.
The reason for this is because our individual nutritional requirements will always be governed not just our DNA but also by our lifestyle habits and the things we gravitate towards.
These cannot be measured from our tissues and can only be measured by observation over time and a specific DNA test would be unable to tell us anything in this area.
Of all of the tools we have available to us today the most widely used one is Metabolic Typing. This tool incorporates a range of different tests that are used to identify how a person's metabolism is functioning.
Metabolic Typing has been developed by a group of nutritional scientists and researchers over the last 100 years though in the past 30 years has been refined into an comprehensive tool - for identifying what type of person you are and what you should eat - by William Wolcott, author of The Metabolic Typing Diet and founder of Healthexcel.
I was first tested by Healthexcel way back in 2004 and I have been tested multiple times since. In that time I have followed a diet that Metabolic Typing says is right for me and the turnaround in my health, energy and appearance has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Now I'm the guy who's tried every diet going but if there is a better way to eat or if a better diet becomes available I want to know about it.
I was so impressed with my results that I became certified as a Metabolic Typing advisor and I now consult with people and advise them how to customise their diet after they have taken the test.
I'm the type of person who is always looking for the best way to do something and I can't find a better way than Metabolic Typing to discover the what foods are right for me so that I can stay fit, energised and healthy.
If I find a better way I'll let you know and by the same token if you find a better way let me know. I don't expect to hear anything anytime soon and any advancements will probably come through metabolic typing.
To find out what metabolic typing is and how it works go here.
For the benefits of eating right for your metabolic type go here.