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Thread: Study proves Primal is unhealthy?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    North Country, NY

    Study proves Primal is unhealthy?

    I've recently come out of the Primal closet, so to speak, to my mother. At first she was excited because she's been doing the same old thing for the past 30 years and has seen no positive results. However, after about 2 days to herself, she comes back to me saying she's read that Primal/Paleo is unhealthy and that she even found a study/research done on this specific diet that proves it's unhealthy.

    Has anyone heard of such a study? She can't seem to find it again and I can't find it.

    I'm going to put her email here so you can see it in context:

    "... after I wrote to you I did some more checking. I found that his cookbook was rated in the top 5 worse cookbooks of 2010. Health officials say this is a horrible diet and not healthy at all. What background does this man have to prove this diet works? Are there studies that show it works? I did find one study that says it does not work and is bad for you. Can't find that study again but below is a review of Mark's book.

    Book Review: The Primal Blueprint Below is an excerpt from that review.

    Where it compares the life of early humans to modern Americans’ lifestyle of arduous commutes to work, hours of digital distractions, and little physical activity, the book makes a convincing argument for better use of leisure time outside of eating and exercising. The diet suggestions it gives are generally a no-brainer: eat a lot of natural foods and avoid processed foods. His urging to try to stick to the diet 80% of the time is also a realistic endeavor for those who agree with its tenets and could result in a lifestyle change as opposed to a time-restricted diet. The exercise suggestions it offers, including low to moderate activity and only short stints of strenuous exercise are also sustainable long term and may help people avoid injury.
    Because Sisson is neither an anthropologist nor nutritionist, his arguments regarding how early humans ate and how people should eat now seem disjointed at times. He makes a good number of extreme statements in the book including associating the advent of grains and civilization with the elimination of selection pressure to reach reproductive age, and suggesting the advice of the USDA, American Heart Association, and American Medical Association has caused, “the destruction of human health.” The book is also heavy on unsupported claims and lacks consistent references for its positions. Lastly, it suggests that counting calories is less necessary despite the fact that countless research has proven that caloric deficit, regardless of the proportion of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, is what results in weight loss."

    I will have to do more reserach to convince me to got his route. I like some of the things Mark says like eat as natural as possible. To avoid all grains and beans , at this time, does not sound like a good thing. I'll have to read more and let you know. In the mean time I want to do some sort of change in our easting habits. We're just not sure what that is right now. I will get rid of most of the boxed things in our cupbaord. I like the idea of range feed meat. I'll let you know what I find.

    Can you guys help my alleviate my mom's fears? And help me find this mythical study?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    I have not found that particular study, however there are a number of studies out there that vilify a high fat diet. Mostly because these studies are either not considering the carb intake along with the fat (which causes sever problems that the fat is then blamed for) or is a correlation that isn't actually a very well executed study so I wouldn't trust the evidence. The fact is that you will always find contradictory science when looking into the primal diet -- it's still relatively young and very controversial.

    BUT! With that said, you could point her to a few things to show her the other side.

    The Men who made us Fat by the BBC was pretty good and looking at sugar's effect on our health and so was the Skinny on Obesity (also BBC). In addition, more and more studies are confirming that a calorie is not a calorie so simply limiting calories never works for long term weight loss. It will work for short term weight loss which is what your mother is probably finding information on. You could also point her Fathead (not the most scientific movie out there but makes a good point and increases awareness that fat isn't bad). In Defense of Fat is a documentary on Kickstarter that aims to better explain our relationship with fat from an ancestral perspective. It's not made, obviously but the fact that it wants to BE MADE should say something to your Mom.

    I suppose there is a bit of a leap of faith needed to switch. You could bring out the funding argument and trace back the money and all that but that's very consiparcy theory(ish) and will probably make you sound even more crazy :-). What's the harm in trying primal for 30 days? Get blood tests now and after and that's all the proof she'll need. Nothing can convince someone as much as an n=1 on themselves!

    Hope that helps a little :-).
    Living the primal lifestyle and loving it! On a constant quest of optimal health and living life to the fullest :-).

    You can have excuses or results -- not both.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    As far as I know, there only one single controlled study putting a Paleo Diet head-to-head with another diet. That diet was the "Mediterranean" diet; the study measured signs of insulin resistance and Type II diabetes. The Paleo Diet was found to be better:


    That kind of study is expensive to do. Hence you don't find many of them. But I'd say that was a pretty good start.

    In short, the "mythical study" doesn't actually exist. The one I just mentioned is the only one.

    But it's not all we have to go on, of course. There is a lot of scientific work that feeds into the picture, such as Dr. Alessio Fasano's work on autoimmunity.

    alessio fasano - PubMed - NCBI

    Then there's a ton of personal testimony -- regularly posted here on this site by Mark. There is also the use of evolutionary arguments. And there are the ethnographic parallels: we know from the reports of people like 19th-century missionary-doctors that what have appropriately been dubbed "the diseases of civilization" were virtually absent from the last hunter-gatherer communities living their traditional lifestyle and eating their traditional foods.

    What the arguments against Paleo/Primal usually revolve around is hurt accusations that this way of eating doesn't replicate what the USDA advises -- but what if the USDA is wrong? or is serving, as it is supposed to do, producer agricultural interests and not health interests? -- with perhaps some dubious interpretations of epidemilogical data thrown in.

    I got the link to the Staffan Lindberg paper from Robb Wolf's site. If you don't find Mark's arguments compelling -- I think they are myself -- maybe have a look at what Robb says:

    What Is The Paleo Diet?

    At the end of the day is your mom going to allow herself to be panicked by criticism from the likes of that seems long on rhetoric and light on detailed and well-supported and referenced argument?

    I really don't know what more to say. Perhaps you might get her toi look at the old blog post of Dr. Mike Eades' for the sake of the video linked in it from Dr. Terry Wahls, who seems to be in the process of curing herself from multiple-sclerosis, previously said to be impossible, by means of a Paleo Diet. I don't give the direct link to the video, because if it's seen in the context in which Dr. Eades presents it you get a sense of the sheer sophistication of Dr. Wahl's understanding and the intellectual fatuity of much of the "mainstream" -- which is precisely what we seem to be up against here.

    The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D. » Mitochondria rejuvenating diet the nutritional ‘experts’ bash

    Again, I hardly know what to say. That's all I've got really.

    I think it's a shame that sitres like think that kind of sloppy "review" is acceptable. I guess it will mislead some individuals. Fortunately, in the wider scheme of things it's no more than a bump in the road and will not stop people from coming here and getting the help they need.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    land of the glass pinecones
    the "review" sounds like one from any old sloppy joe on amazon. there are people who do that sort of thing as a hobby.

    there is info of a contradictory nature, on EVERYTHING, abounding on the interwebs.

    have your health and well-being improved? has your mom been treading the same cw hamster wheel for decades with no change, but for the worse? what has she got to lose for a 30-day trial?
    As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

    – Ernest Hemingway

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    North Country, NY
    Thanks guys!

    I love this community because everyone is extremely knowledgeable and are never condescending. Being a n00b at something on the internet is usually cause for ridicule.

    But yeah, she's been super frustrated with her current diet (which has lasted about a decade). I've given her a starting point and probably too much information, and now I'm just going to tell her to take the plunge. If after a month she sees no difference, no harm no foul.
    Last edited by Azairah; 07-23-2012 at 11:02 AM. Reason: some spelling errors

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    She didn't get it from any study. She got it from a book review
    Book Review: The Primal Blueprint

    IOW it's an opinion from someone who post to a forum Calorie Count Forums :: Posts by carolyn_r
    Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott F View Post
    She didn't get it from any study. She got it from a book review
    Book Review: The Primal Blueprint

    IOW it's an opinion from someone who post to a forum Calorie Count Forums :: Posts by carolyn_r
    Holy crap, Calorie Count forums are the worst. Everyone on them is terrified of fat, patting themselves on the back for exercising 3 hours a day and eating soy with every meal. I swear, there's probably a shrine to Diet Coke somewhere on there.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    To avoid all grains and beans , at this time, does not sound like a good thing.
    If all you are worried about is avoiding grains and beans:
    1. I never ate beans as a kid. A whole lot of people don't eat beans. I didn't eat beans until I was vegetarian.
    2. The only "grain" most people eat is white bread and whatever goes in cereal. Most "healthy" people consider white bread junk.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Lansing, MI
    I have found that I just let the results do the speaking. I don't argue with anyone; I just live the paleo lifestyle. This includes my parents, wife, bes friends, coworkers, etc. THey are slowly all picking up aspects of my lifestyle with no arguments. Why? Well, I went from a 260 pound asthmatic with allergies, high blood pressure, early on-set arthritis, and chronic back pain to a 170 pound guy with no chronic illnesses.

    Of course, if you want to convince your mom, just give her a copy of "Good Calories, Bad Calories".

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Almere (Netherlands)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiigigaw View Post
    Well, I went from a 260 pound asthmatic with allergies, high blood pressure, early on-set arthritis, and chronic back pain to a 170 pound guy with no chronic illnesses.
    So what happened to the arthritis? I have some pseudo-arthritis from an accident in the military 30 years ago, and I'd love to get rid of it.

    Walter Zed, Paleo-n00b trying to go from to 290 to 210

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