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Dr. Cordain is a Professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. His research emphasis over the past 15 years has focused upon the evolutionary and anthropological basis for diet, health and well being in modern humans. Dr. Cordain's scientific publications have examined the nutritional characteristics of worldwide hunter-gatherer diets as well as the nutrient composition of wild plant and animal foods consumed by foraging humans. Over the past five years his work has focused upon the adverse health effects of the high dietary glycemic load that is ubiquitous in the typical western diet. A number of his recent papers have proposed an endocrine link between dietary induced hyperinsulinemia and acne. Currently, Dr. Cordain's research team is exploring the connection between dietary elements that increase intestinal permeability (primarily saponins and lectins) and autoimmune disease, particularly multiple sclerosis. Dr. Cordain is the author of more than 100 peer review publications, many of which were funded by both private and governmental agencies. He is the recent recipient of the Scholarly Excellence award at Colorado State University for his contributions into understanding optimal human nutrition. He has lectured extensively on the "Paleolithic Nutrition" concept world wide, and has written three popular books (The Paleo Diet, John Wiley & Sons; The Paleo Diet for Athletes, Rodale Press; The Dietary Cure for Acne) summarizing his research findings.
When I was in engineering school there were some professors who were very, very smart but they were lousy teachers. There were also professors who did an excellent job of teaching and they made teaching look easy. Loren Cordain is an excellent teacher. I've read two of his books, now. His books have significantly more technical detail than any other book I've read on nutrition (I've read dozens) and yet it's all VERY easy to understand. It seems that every popular book on nutrition contains some testimonials and I'd like to share my own testimonial.
I read Loren Cordain's first book, "The Paleo Diet" in 2004. I started following the diet right away and lost weight. Then I got lazy and went back to eating the standard American diet (SAD). In 2007 I had blood work done and my doctor alerted me to the fact that my liver enzymes were elevated. They did an ultrasound test and found nothing seriously wrong with my liver. I was relieved but still concerned about the health of my liver. I'm no doctor but surely the liver is a vital organ. Don't ask me why but I still kept eating the SAD diet. My doctor drew my blood every six months for the next two-and-one-half years. Each and every time my liver enzymes were elevated. Last year I decided to follow a strict paleo diet. After 10 weeks I had lost thirty pounds and my liver enzymes were in the normal range. As a side benefit the acne on my back, which I had for decades, had completely disappeared. I hate to use hyperbole but the paleo diet is damn-near miraculous.
If you are new to the paleo diet concept you should keep something in mind. The paleo diet is not an "invention" but actually a discovery of what humans ate for millions of years. The paleo diet mimics the diet "designed" for us by the evolutionary process.Read more ›
Among the crop of paleo/primal/ancestral health books, this one earns a place on my top five ranking. It has useful and up-to-date discussions of specific disease conditions and their relationships to nutrition. Since the Paleo Answer is brand-new, it also has the advantage of being able to cite new research since Good Calories, Bad Calories (GCBC) came out.
The book is almost entirely about nutrition. It mentions other lifestyle issues, but only in short treatments, so do not expect the kind of wide-spectrum discussion of lifestyle at the depth available in the Primal Blueprint. I thought the sub-title was misleading. This is not a play-by-play gimmicky diet program. It is a useful applied science book (and sure, if you stop eating nasty toxins, of course you'll feel better in a few days!).
The chapter on vegetarianism/veganism is notably solid and might be useful to recommend to vegetarians and vegans. Moral issues are touched on, but what Cordain really wants to make fully clear in this chapter, and I think he slam-dunks it, is that seeking better health is not one of the reasons to be a vegetarian/vegan [Steve Jobs, RIP].
It is nice to see an author who openly changes his mind and Cordain is quite clear on points on which new evidence or understandings have led him to do so in the past few years. The discussion of vitamin supplements is important. Cordain argues that the most recent studies are trending to indicate that most supplements are somewhere between useless and harmful, but D and fish oil appear to remain positive. I thought his personal stories fit with the content and add to the book (rather than being mere ego digressions), I particularly liked the story related to obtaining clean water.
The chapter on dairy showed some logical weakness.Read more ›
For many years prior to 2004, I bought into conventional wisdom regarding diet and nutrition and ate lots of whole grains, as did many of my acquaintances who were striving for good health. The results were disastrous across the board: weight gains, gastrointestinal problems, skin problems, atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, autoimmunity and more, a cascade of unaccountable chronic issues. We could not understand how we could be eating such "healthy whole grain goodness" and yet become so sick and fat. Dr. Cordain's original pioneering Paleo Diet book led many of us, including me, to greatly improved health. The science that has been unfolding since has essentially all been pointing in one direction, supporting Dr. Cordain's theories. The scientific support is so strong that you see little of the back and forth, the contradictory study results, that usually accompany unfolding science in peer reviewed journal articles. Yet as always seems to be the case, few of those practicing medicine or nutrition in the trenches seem to have recognized the truths and effectiveness of the principles.
The Paleo Answer is a much welcome update to The Paleo Diet and The Paleo Diet for Athletes. Several years ago, I'd suggested such an update and was told it was in the works. The original book, The Paleo Diet, good as it was, contained some understandable errors of the time that needed revision, such as the suggestion to use flaxseed oil for cooking, when flaxseed oil is far too fragile for that purpose.
Dr. Cordain tends to be a relative purist when it comes to paleo diet principles, and many readers will be daunted when they read the new book and find that so many of their favorite foods are seriously deleterious. Yet there is sound science backing up Dr.Read more ›