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The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat Paperback – Unabridged, December 20, 2002
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According to author Loren Cordain, modern health and diet problems didn't start with the advent of packaged snack food, but much earlier--back at the dawn of the agricultural age many thousands of years ago. As humans became less nomadic and more dependent on high-carbohydrate diets, we left behind the diet we had evolved with, which is based on low-fat proteins and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Sugars, fats, and carbs were rare, if they were present at all, and survival required a steady, if low-key, level of activity.
Cordain's book The Paleo Diet blends medical research with a healthy sprinkle of individual anecdotes, practical tips, and recipes designed to make his suggestions into a sustainable lifestyle, rather than a simple month-long diet; he even includes cooking recommendations and nationwide sources for wild game.
Claims of improving diseases from diabetes to acne to polycystic ovary disease may be a little overstated, but in general the advice seems sound. Can any of us really go wrong by adding lots more vegetables and fruits to our daily regimen? One recommendation on safe tanning with a gradual reduction in sunscreen is surprising and not much detail is provided for safety issues that can accompany increased sun exposure. Still, Cordain's assertions have helped many people, and could provide exactly the changes you've been looking for to improve your health. --Jill Lightner
From Library Journal
Like Ray Audette's Neanderthin (St. Martin's, 1999), this is another "if you can't find it in the wild, don't eat it" diet that takes the germ of a useful idea and runs with it. According to Cordain (health and exercise science, Colorado State Univ.), Paleolithic humans were fit and lean because, as hunter-gatherers, they ate what was available: meats low in saturated fats, fresh fruits, and nonstarchy vegetables. Nor did they suffer from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, the byproducts of our poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Then again, the average Paleolithic life span was about 30 years, not long enough to develop most chronic illnesses. Still, the author asserts that by eliminating grains, dairy, refined sugars, and processed foods from our diets, we, too, can thrive as our ancestors did. Three levels of diet and six weeks of sample menus, with recipes, are included.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book claims to be the last word in explaining what our ancestors ate, and to not be just another book full of fads, but it is seriously flawed. The author seems to be trying to merge information on what the caveman diet consisted of with as many modern food fads as possible. He is particularly ignorant about healthy fats and oils.
The book is also not very convincing in the way it explains the scientific basis for the Paleo diet.
I disagree with the authors very-low salt stance and would advise them to read about unrefined sea salt and the work of Dr Brownstein on the many myths about salt and low-salt diet scaremongering, and the cholesterol scaremongering as well. The author has also been grossly misinformed about saturated fats. You should probably ignore what the author says about fats and oils in this book, as most of it is just plain wrong.
Liquid vegetable oils did not exist in paleolithic times and cooking with flax oil is very unhealthy! Saturated fats are also an important part of a healthy diet, and eating eggs does NOT raise your cholesterol levels. The 'very high' cholesterol levels mentioned in the book of 208 are also not high at all, and well within the healthy range of 200 - 240 according to lipid expert Mary Enig PhD.
The healthiest oils to cook with are ghee (unless you're 100% dairy free), lard, tallow, coconut and palm oils and olive oil. Oils should never be heated to very high temperatures such as in deep frying. These are the traditional fats to cook with, not flax oil!
The book is also very inconsistent and vague when it comes to talking about supplements. The recommendation given for vitamin C is very low and only the alpha tocopherol form of vitamin E is recommended rather than a supplement containing all 8 forms. Vitamin C is a genuine exception to the 'too good to be true' rule. Vitamin C is the way nature designed us to deal with stress and disease, as can be seen when we look at animals that still produce their own vitamin C in their livers. Vitamin C helps diseases of all varieties as well as all oxidative stress and is one of the safest substances you can ingest, even at very high doses. It is also not a good idea to take only a few supplements in larger doses as this creates imbalances, and a general basic supplementation regime is a much healthier option.
The book also claims 'protein can't be overeaten' which is just not true as excessive protein intake stresses the liver. When fat intake is more reasonable one would probably not overeat protein, but with a lower fat intake this could easily happen surely - you have to eat something. Far healthier than a very high protein eating plan is a high fat, moderate protein and low carb eating plan as described in the books on traditional eating listed below. Our ancestors ate a lot of fat and a lot of it was saturated. Saturated fat offers many benefits to the body.
The author is also wrong about the 'calories in, calories out' theory of weight loss. As the book 'Good Calories, Bad Calories' by Gary Taubes explains:
1. The 'calories in, calories out' mantra is a myth
2. 'A calorie is a calorie is a calorie' is a myth
3. The 'just eat less and do more exercise to lose weight' message seems to be logical but is actually wrong and unhelpful
4. Overweight and obese people often eat no more calories, or even less, than their thinner counterparts
5. Low calorie diets also reduce the amount of nutrients in the diet
6. Dietary fat, including saturated fat, is not a cause of obesity. Refined and easily digestible carbs causing high insulin levels cause obesity.
The book 'Know Your Fats' by lipid expert Mary Enig PhD explains the facts about fats and oils and why the saturated fat = heart disease hypothesis is wrong. See also books such as Ignore the awkward! How the cholesterol myths are kept alive.
The book 'The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health and boundless energy (Primal Blueprint Series) is a far better book on the Paleolithic diet. Even better is Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life - this is a real 5 star health and diet book.
The book 'Deep Nutrition' offers a far more well researched and credible discussion of traditional foods and how they affect our genes. This book provides a wealth of fascinating and compelling information that is not available for free online. This book and 'Know Your Fats' and 'Good Calories, Bad Calories' are essential reading.
The Paleo approach generally is very solid, but not as it is interpreted in this book. This book contains an okay quality 3 star version of the diet - far better than the standard diet full of refined foods and grains but missing out lots of good information as well. This is not the last word on diet, but a book which is quite faddish in its approach overall.
Jodi Bassett, The Hummingbirds' Foundation for M.E. (HFME) and Health, Healing & Hummingbirds (HHH)
According to these theorists, sixty million years ago, the earliest primates subsisted mainly on fruit, leaves, and insects: humans started using tools and fire 2.6 million years ago and moved to a hunter-gatherer diet. These theorists assume that the body is genetically best adapted to a hunter-gatherer diet, to the exclusion of diets that include grains, legumes, and dairy, which they assume only became part of the human diet ten thousand years ago, when agriculture became a primary method of attaining food.
Dr. Loren Cordain’s diet recommendations are:
1. Eat all the lean meats, fish, and seafood you can.
2. Eat all the fruits and nonstarchy vegetables you can.
3. Focus on a diet with a net-alkaline load.
4. Eat foods high in potassium and low in sodium (no salt).
5. Moderate consumption of oils from olive, avocado, and flaxseed.
6. Moderate consumption of artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and alcohol.
7. Moderate consumption nuts and dried fruits.
8. Do not eat grains.
9. Do not eat legumes.
10. Do not eat starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, or yams.
11. Do not eat dairy products.
12. Do not eat processed foods.
13. Do not eat candy, honey, or sugar.
He recommends the following macronutrient division (percentage of calories):
Fats 28–47 percent
Carbohydrates 22–40 percent
Proteins 19–35 percent
1. By excluding grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, dairy, processed foods, and sugar from their diet, most people will consume fewer calories and thereby lose weight in the short term. Despite the restrictions, the diet includes sufficient macro- and micronutrients for maintaining health.
2. Our bodies need far-more potassium than sodium, but the typical US diet is just the opposite: Americans average about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day, about 75 percent of which comes from processed foods, while only getting about 2,900 milligrams of potassium daily. Sodium and potassium have opposite effects on heart health: High salt intake increases blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, while high potassium intake can help relax blood vessels and excrete the sodium and decrease blood pressure. Therefore Dr. Cordain’s recommendation concerning salt and potassium is on target.
3. Regarding the problem of consuming too much unhealthy saturated fat when including meat in one’s diet, Dr. Cordain raises a good point (pg. 15): “The meat of grain-fed livestock is vastly at odds with that of wild animals. A 100 gram serving of T-bone beefsteak gives you a walloping 9.1 grams of saturated fat whereas a comparable piece of bison roast yields on 0.9 grams of saturated fat.” Actually, we don’t have to go back so far as prehistoric times, to reach the era when most of the meat consumed by humans was free range. Just 150 years ago, that was the norm. However, his emphasis to purchase leaner free-ranging meats is on target.
1. Whole grains, legumes, and many low-fat dairy products are excellent sources of nutrition—dietary fiber, protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Except for individuals who have allergies to these foods, or difficulty digesting them, these foods are beneficial and healthful when not overeaten, contributing to a balanced, healthy diet. Food variety is important, as each food contributes something unique for the body to utilize, and the Paleo Diet unreasonably limits this variety, placing unnecessary stress on the dieter.
2. The Paleo Diet doesn’t provide any advice on reducing the number of fat cells or improving leptin sensitivity, which are necessary for long-term fat reduction.
1. The presumption that total avoidance of grains, legumes, and dairy products will make a person healthy and fit like a prehistoric hunter is incorrect.
Avoiding processed foods, sugar, and salt, is not unique to the Paleo diet, neither is the recommendation to get exercise unique. What is unique to his diet is the total avoidance of grains, legumes, and dairy products.
Dr. Cordain attempts to convince people that mimicking the unique qualities of the Paleo Diet (total avoidance of grains, legumes, and dairy products) makes you healthy. In his words (pg. 6): “Descriptions of hunter gatherers by early European explorers and adventurers showed these people to be healthy, fit, strong, and vivacious. These same characteristics can be yours when you follow the dietary and exercise principles I have laid out in the Paleo Diet.”
Prehistoric hunters also didn’t use modern laundry detergent and toothbrushes. So should we avoid those too? It’s more practical and realistic to mimic the diets and lifestyles of today’s world-champion athletes—professional football and basketball stars, professional boxers and wrestlers, Olympic track stars, weightlifting champions, and marathon runners. They all eat grains, legumes, and dairy, and they would not have been as successful had they not.
2. The relevance and value of an alkaline diet is unsubstantiated.
Concerning Dr. Cordain’s recommendation to focus on a diet with a net-alkaline load, I don’t see the relevance to the diet of the theorized prehistoric man. Grains, legumes, meat, fish, and eggs are all acidic, while fruits and vegetables are alkaline. Depending upon the location and the season, hunter-gatherers would sometimes have had more acidic diets and other times more alkaline.
Dr. Cordain adheres to a new, popular, unsubstantiated theory that it is in our best interest to eat foods that are more alkaline than acidic, so that we end up with an overall alkaline load in our body. This supposedly protects us from the diseases of modern civilization, whereas eating a diet with a net-acid load will make us vulnerable to everything from cancer to osteoporosis. A meta-analysis of clinical trials concludes that there is no evidence that increasing the diet acid load promotes skeletal bone-mineral loss or osteoporosis.” (T. R. Fenton, A. W. Lyon, M. Eliasziw, S. C. Tough, and D. A. Hanley, “Meta-Analysis of the Effect of the Acid-Ash Hypothesis of Osteoporosis on Calcium Balance,” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (2009), http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19419322)
3. The inclusion of wine in the Paleo Diet is hypocritical.
Dr. Cordain writes (pg. 112): “Numerous scientific studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption significantly reduces the risk of dying from heart disease and other illnesses. Wine in particular, when consumed in moderation has been shown to have many beneficial health effects.”
Dr. Cordain admits that alcohol consumption didn’t precede agriculture and was not part of the diet of prehistoric humans. As such, the benefits of wine defy the theory that humankind genetically adapted to function best according to the diet that it evolved on over millions of years.
Why single out wine to be included in the diet more than other beneficial agricultural items such as legumes?
4. Why rule out sweet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A, which studies show helps reduce the number of fat cells! (S. M. Jeyakumar, A. Vajreswari, B. Sesikeran, and N. V. Giridharan, “Vitamin A Supplementation Induces Adipose Tissue Loss through Apoptosis in Lean but Not in Obese Rats of the WNIN/OB Strain,” Journal of Molecular Endocrinology (October 1, 2005), http://jme.endocrinology-journals.org/content/35/2/391.full) They have a healthy amount of numerous vitamins and minerals (including potassium, which Dr. Cordain recommends increasing). While they are high in carbs, there are times when it is advantageous to increase carbs. They are also sweet and satisfying and have a low GI. I recommend them in moderation during a weight maintenance phase, so long as one’s total carbs remain at target level.
5. The evolutionary assumptions of Dr. Cordain’s theories are disputed.
Dr. Cordain’s writes (pg. 21): “The principles I have laid out in the Paleo Diet—all based on decades of scientific research and proved over millions of years by our ancestors—will make your metabolism soar, your appetite shrink, and extra pounds begin to melt away as you include more and more lean protein in your meals.”
Many scholars, doctors, professors, and scientists have written books disputing the theory of evolution with a variety of arguments and proofs. See Maimonides and Metabolism for a quick summary of Darwin’s own realization of the weakness of the theory.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I wish I had read this first and saved my time. Next I'll read his cookbook.
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