My Response to the Scientific American Article that the Paleo Diet is “Half-Baked”

As you’d correctly assume from the article’s title, “Why The Paleo Diet is Half-Baked,” the article doesn’t exactly recommend Paleo as an ideal way to eat. However, I think it’s best to not throw out the Paleo baby with the bathwater.

The author writes, “Most nutritionists consent that the Paleo diet gets at least one thing right—cutting down on processed foods…”

I think we can all agree that it gets a few more things right- namely lots of fresh veggies as a foundation of our diet, as well as the importance of meat, fish, fowl & eggs. I think ‘mainstream’ nutritional advice downplays the benefits of animal foods. So I like that Paleo has, in my opinion, increased the perception that, for example, whole eggs are a healthy food, not just egg whites!

Another good thing that I think can be somewhat attributed to the Paleo trend is how animals are raised! Grass-fed beef is lower in fat, and thus healthier than beef from traditional factory-farmed cows. Not only that, but beef raised that way is much less cruel and has less negative impact on the environment. This is a fantastic thing & I’m so glad I shifted to local & naturally-raised meats for these reasons. And for me, that shift came in part because of Paleo.

Finally, in an effort to have plant-foods be more similar to Paleo-times, organic farming is also emphasized in the Paleo diet. I have the impression the scientific community doesn’t have much consensus on pesticides, but… the farm at which I’m a CSA a member is organic and focuses on sustainable farming practices. They do things like grow crops with the sole purpose of helping enrich the soil with minerals. They’re tilled into the soil before the next crop is planted.

I honestly hate gardening & it doesn’t interest me much, so I’m not certain about this– but I do believe veggies & fruits can have more or less nutrients based on such practices. In other words, because my farmers do these things, their veggies have more vitamins & minerals than other large-scale, non-sustainable farms!

Again, a concept Paleo pushes that is healthier & better. & while Paleo is so trendy now, I hope these positive *aspects* of the Paleo diet stay with us even after the inevitable decline of all trendy things.

To be honest, I have my doubts about the accuracy of the claim that grains are poison because humans aren’t yet adapted to eat them. For example, geographic presence of lactose intolerance is concrete proof that evolution does lead to changes in much less than 10,000 years!

Regardless, even if it is false that humans aren’t yet genetically adapted to consume grains and legumes, people react differently to different diets and Paleo has been phenomenal for me. I’m simply not concerned with the validity of the science behind the reasons. I feel great and it works and it’s definitely healthy, so it simply doesn’t matter if the reasons why people like Mark Sisson advocate the Paleo diet aren’t scientifically justified. There are more than enough other good reasons to do it!

Phew, book length post! Let me recap:

I think most of us can agree that these are good things. & I think that Paleo has pushed them:

1. Lots of veggies good!

2. Nuts & fruits good too

3. Organic, sustainably-grown plant foods

4. Animal products good (whole eggs, etc.)

5. Naturally, ethically raised meats ideal

Also good from Paleo:

6. Mark Sisson’s “Primal Blueprint,” while he may get some of the science wrong & some may disagree on the bans on grains, legumes, & low-fat dairy, he DOES give a lot of great advice & has been a wonderful inspiration for healthier living.

7. Paleo may be wrong that humans aren’t adapted to consume grains, legumes & dairy. Still though, it has worked wonders for me, I love it.

8. Since individuals respond differently to diets, I say it’s worth a try. :)

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