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Thread: Criticisms of Primal/Paleo Lifestyle? page 7

  1. #61
    Katt's Avatar
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    "The problem with the first justification for PB has already been brought up in this thread, basically it amounts to, how can you eat like a caveman when we don't know how cavemen ate? This get's to the heart of the weaknesses in the scientific justification. "

    We actually do know more about what they ate from the study of ancient bones. The isotopes and carbons extracted can tell us the predominant foods in the diet.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/n2871q7u63170045/

    This paper presents the published and unpublished stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values for 36 European Upper Paleolithic humans from 20 sites. The isotope data were measured to determine the sources of dietary protein in Upper Paleolithic diets; the evidence indicates that animal, not plant, protein was the dominant protein source for all of the humans measured. Interestingly, the isotope evidence shows that aquatic (marine and freshwater) foods are important in the diets of a number of individuals throughout this period.
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  2. #62
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    Katt -- So that at least would address the various claims that we were all somehow vegan in the past. (But most of the pro-vegan arguments seem to be based on ethical claims rather than nutritional history... I mean we don't need to look back far in history to prove that people eat meat. They're doing it now!)

    joerandom -- this is why I wish for some nice, large sample size, scientifically-valid studies of eating and health (weight loss or heart failure for example) that actually include a primal-type of eating. RE: heart failure, there are lots of existing studies claiming red meat is bad for cholesterol but it's always in combination with people eating non-primal carbs, so there's no good variable isolation. If, as so many here claim/believe, the non-primal carbs are causing this inflammatory reaction that makes dietary cholesterol less safe, it'd be great to have more scientific evidence there.

    The individual experience is anecdotal but it's still important for the people who find encouragement to try this and then discover that it does work for them (for whatever their goals are -- lose weight, avoid diabetes, get off heart medication.) That's probably true for any dietary or health modification approach, there will always be people who feel that it works for them and others who don't find long-term success like that. (look at all the ex-veg*ns here for example, or people who tried a bunch of other diets before settling here.)
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  3. #63
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    We haven't been Vegan as a species for a very long time. (maybe never?) Not even our closest relatives, Chimps, are Vegan.
    Last edited by Katt; 12-02-2010 at 10:19 AM. Reason: Sentence construction sucks sometimes.
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  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katt View Post
    "The problem with the first justification for PB has already been brought up in this thread, basically it amounts to, how can you eat like a caveman when we don't know how cavemen ate? This get's to the heart of the weaknesses in the scientific justification. "

    We actually do know more about what they ate from the study of ancient bones. The isotopes and carbons extracted can tell us the predominant foods in the diet.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/n2871q7u63170045/

    This paper presents the published and unpublished stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values for 36 European Upper Paleolithic humans from 20 sites. The isotope data were measured to determine the sources of dietary protein in Upper Paleolithic diets; the evidence indicates that animal, not plant, protein was the dominant protein source for all of the humans measured. Interestingly, the isotope evidence shows that aquatic (marine and freshwater) foods are important in the diets of a number of individuals throughout this period.
    This is sort of the point I was trying to make. We can have some idea what pre-historic man ate, but we're never going to have an exact picture, or at least not until the science get's much stronger. This paper uses information from a sample size of 36, we wouldn't base medical treatments on one study of 36 people so why should we base dietary decisions on so little information? Anyway, I know that there's more evidence than just one paper, but my point is that there's a lot of uncertainty built into these studies so we should be careful about the strength of the claims that we make based on them. I'm not claiming that we definitely don't know how pre-historic man ate anymore than I think we should be claiming that we definitely do know how pre-historic man ate.

    This paper indicates that aquatic foods and animal protein were important, okay that's all well and good. But when new evidence shows up that pre-historic man ate grains, as in the NYT article, we don't update the PB diet to include grains. So the scientific/"this is how humans used to eat" justification isn't sufficient if we're not changing the PB diet based on new scientific evidence about pre-historic diets.

  5. #65
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    Well, the grainhood of most of the NYT article's "grains" is debatable; lotta root starches there, cattail etc. And certainly that doesn't translate to "eat gluten, they did!" even if it was gluten-y.

    I agree that we shouldn't be making big sweeping claims about ancient foods beyond the evidence.
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  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sassy View Post
    So was I....guess what fixed it.
    Very good point!

  7. #67
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    My feeling is that paleo man may have eaten grains occasionally, but I seriously doubt it was a mainstay of his diet as it is of modern man's.

  8. #68
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    I think these two posts get to the heart of the most legitimate criticisms of the PB diet. It seems that there are two main justifications for the PB diet. First is the general argument that pre-historic humans ate differently than we do now and that the way that they ate is better adapted hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. This argument is essentially a scientific one. Second is the common sense argument that so many people seem to have had really notable success, i.e. that the adherents to the diet are the best evidence in favor of it working. This argument is anecdotal at heart.
    actually it is not strictly anecdotal or scientific guesswork since there are modern day statistics of drastic changes in the health of " primitive populations" who suddenly adopted western diets...

  9. #69
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    I think one of the biggest problems with saying "this is what paleo man ate" is that our ancestors would have eaten different food depending on where they lived.

    In regard to the few studies that paleo critics wave about saying that our ancestors did eat grains, they display the most extreme for of confirmation bias. As Jenny mentioned, in one of those the "grains" were actually ground up starch, like potatoes. I am aware of one study though that found a mortar and pestle with some kind of wild barley. Dating errors aside, I have a number of counter-criticisms:
    1. Grok would have explored different food sources. That does not mean that he ate them on a routine basis.
    2. Wild grains that have been fermented are a very different thing than pasta. See the work of Weston A. Price, people can live on fermented grains and still display very good health.
    3. We have like 1-2 studies showing actual ground grains, and hundreds showing that we ate lots of meat. Which do you think played a more prominent role in Grok's diet?

    Also, as much as a role model Grok can be for us, he did not always live in the best world. He would occasionally have been faced with hunger. It is quite possible that the few grain residues we have found were actually Grok exploiting the only food he had left so that he didn't starve. That certainly does not prove "healthy," simply calories.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katt View Post
    We haven't been Vegan as a species for a very long time. (maybe never?) Not even our closest relatives, Chimps, are Vegan.
    For a long time Australopithecus was thought to be frugivorous but I think some new methods have shown they ate at least some meat.

    That is going pretty far back though.

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