Hi I wonder if you know about studies comparing the effects of Paleo diet with other healthy, non Paleo diets. For instance traditional Maasai diet consisted (exclusively in the case of young males) of meat and dairy products, and those young Maasai had (and still seem to have) incredible health. Here is a link on this: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/06/masai-and-atherosclerosis.html. On the other hand the traditional Okinawa diet, very successful in terms of longevity,which includes huge amounts of sweet potatoes is not exactly Paleo. Something similar could be said about the traditional Cretan diet, which includes bread, lentils and dairy products as an important staple. Of course all of this traditional diets share the exclusion of modern, industrial era processed foods, trans fats, and highly refined flour and sugar, but beyond that, they are quite different from each other and also different from the usual Paleo standard. Any thoughts?
asked byPhilosopher (3524)
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on December 16, 2010
at 10:30 PM
True, and it doesn't stop there either. Not only do the Okinawas eat plenty of rice, the best ultrarunners in the world, the Tarahumara, exist on a diet of pretty much solely corn and beans. If Cordain is your bible, that's the most unpaleo diet in the world. And the Kitavans living off potatoes all day too.
To me, Paleo is a simple a lesson in healthy respect for whole unprocessed foods. Where there's grain, there's dangers but they're not insurmountable. The Tarahumara are rigorous in their preparation of corn; their slow nixtamalization is nothing like the modern-day industrial scale high speed version for example.
My view at the end of all this is simple - a good diet is very high in nutrients. This way around sticks steak and spinach at the top of your food list and sugar/white flour right at the bottom. Is it strictly paleo? Probably not. What I do know is it makes sense when you look at healthy diets across the world, and healthy cultures mean far more to me than abstract theories
PS great post stephen-aegis
on December 16, 2010
at 04:41 PM
Why aren't sweet potatoes paleo? Go read Catching Fire: How cooking made us human. Tubers are better for us than most vegetables...
Masai are raw milk. Milk is the only non "paleo" item here. Yet I'd wager to say most of us use real butter here. I drink fermented milk(kefir) but only if it's made from raw milk. I also eat grassfed raw cheese with no likelihood of stopping.
Milk is not broad paleo because the majority of the planet is lactose intolerant. And Cafo Milk is suboptimal nutrition.
Low carb is great for restoring insulin and hormonal sensitivities. It's completely unnecessary if you're not damaged.
The legume cultures soaked sprouted and prepared the legumes to neutralize some of the toxins, same for the grains, but those were not healthy staples. Wheat/gluten bread is not something we evolved on, legumes maybe, starch for sure. Milk is only for those of us that can produce our own lactase.
As Kurt Harris says tho: Tolerated is not Optimal.
Those cultures are/were paleo.
Just not Atkins paleo ;)
I used to wonder how to get Magnesium/Potassium etc without supplementing... Then I rediscovered tubers and feel EVEN Better!
No longer am I a carbo-phobe, now I just time my tubers to activity an I have more energy, better sleep, and I've put back on 20lbs of muscle
on October 27, 2012
at 02:53 PM
The idea that the Okinawa diet is starchy and based on sweet potatoes is BALONEY! I lived there for 5 1/2 years, and I can tell you the primary starch is Japanese style white rice and the diet consists of plenty if pork (and pork fat!), seafood, and vegetables with copious amounts of green tea--no sweetener. The Okinawans have a cultural bias against overeating, too.
The so-called "studies" of the Okinawa diet were done when the tiny island was still recovering from the utter devastation it suffered during WWII. The theories that they live longer and healthier lives because of a "starch-based" diet are pure fantasy.
Knowing what I know about this, I often wonder if the stories about Kitavans and others have it all wrong too? How many people citing these examples as the basis for their own theories ever went to these places to see for themselves???
on December 16, 2010
at 04:23 PM
Good read: Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" - talks a bit about looking at tribal diets in an environmental and whole context, rather than breaking down each nutrient as a possible miracle fix to things (like adding omega3s to twinkies will solve obesity issues - haha). Mentions the Maasai (meat and dairy), as well as Eskimo diets (largely fat), and others.
on October 27, 2012
at 10:39 PM
First lets define optimal.
Optimal health =
Physical fitness, ie Endurance, strength, balance & speed etc Physical wellbeing, ie lack of all illness, leanness, longevity etc Mental fitness & wellbeing, ie memory, logical skills, instinct etc Emotional wellbeing, ie stable and resiliant mood
I am certain that all of these diverse groups have not been tested for every element of optimal health, nor does every element come from food alone. We know for example that longevity is tied to community (for example married couples live longer than singles). So a group with a better society will have more longevity.
That said, if your highly active, metabolically healthy, I personally beleive your body can handle more carbs.
I am also inclined to beleive, personally, that the inclusion of wheat etc, being chemically dissimilar to gatherable foods, isnt optimal. It may allow for longevity however. I think its a mistake to equate longevity with optimal health. Severe caloric restriction provides longevity, but you cant perform well physically or mentally on it. Any group experiencing longevity could simply be under caloric restriction due to food scarcity or poverty. Then once you factor in social factors as well, what your really proving is simply that the things they do dont tend to kill them, they have good societies/are happy. That doesnt mean they are optimal diets, and the same could be said of many lifestyle factors.
Again this comes down to the fact that all elements of optimal health have not been evaluated in these groups. A good modern example is the japanese. They have a long lifespan but are more prone to diabetes, stroke etc. They also smoke, and have a high incidence of lung cancer (but not heart disease, the number 1 killer, hence the longevity). That example just shows that there is more to health than longevity. You can have a very high average lifespan, even be apparently "healthier" and still have health issues that others dont have. Longevity does not equal optimal health.
Equally if your epigenetics and current self are adapted, you can handle very low carbs, like the massai, or innuit. I beleive epigenetics explain why some people cant handle very low carb. It simply has to be in our range of flexibility because of periods of low vegetable foods during nomadic HGing, and the ice age etc, but its probable that people who come from families that have eaten alot of carbs find it hard to switch back. Seems logical.
It stands to reason, that we have ate different types of foods since humanity came about, including in the paleolithic. We were, after all, opportunitist nomadic hunter gatherers. We were not always in the same place, season, we did not always recognise or find the plant foods we were after, nor did we always catch the prey. Based on that, in a context of activity, sunshine, community etc, we can expect our bodies to tolerate a range of naturally occuring, whole foods diets that provide the essential nutrition (also allowing for epigenetics)
Where optimal fails would seem to be (outside of not enough nutrients), too much of particular chemicals or nutrients (like fructose or glucose without activity, or omega-6, or anti-nutrients) that our bodies do not expect based on all the prior years. But where it fails isnt obvious from some athropologist doing a breif study on one single element of health, or some kind of observation.
Any one of these populations would have had to have been studied for every aspect of the health I speak of above, as well as measured for the occurance of every disease, before we could claim with certainty any of them are optimal.
on August 24, 2012
at 12:33 AM
I'm Greek, and I've written an article about why the Cretan diet was that good (up to about 1970s), and most importantly, why it wasn't that different from the Paleo/Primal diets: http://eugenia.queru.com/2012/08/23/why-the-mediterraneancretan-diet-was-the-best/
on May 30, 2013
at 11:25 PM
The traditional ancestor diets in my area were more paleo-like, with scant carbs (from berries/roots/bulbs/inner cambium/nuts) and lots of meat (seafood of every type, and meat from bear/elk/deer). Was this an optimal diet? Unknown. Was this a diet for longevity? Probably not. Was it a diet you could survive on? Definitely. I think the same applies to any ancestral diet. They're better than fast food and Cheetos, but none of them meets the very Neolithic standards of an optimal diet. You don't eat camas bulbs in an optimal diet, any more than you would set forest fires to improve game habitat.
on April 27, 2016
at 07:11 AM
Thanks for sharing this diet related link here . I am health conscious and looking for diet related plans .
on April 25, 2016
at 07:12 AM
I have tried paleo diet. It is very helpful if followed properly.
on June 16, 2015
at 01:15 AM
This is all really based on a LOT of fictional information.
The published Okinawan Diet and the Tarahumara Diet and the Mediterranean Diet (and offshoots) have both been found to be pretty much made up diets with their cores based around the authors' personal agendas and biases (usually higher carb and lower meat / fat).
As one Commenter noted - from personal experience - the REAL Okinawan Diet is not even remotely like published one. Nor is the NATIVE Okinawan Diet!
Likewise with the Mediterranean Diet. And the "Cretan Diet"??? Not even sure where that came from.
But what is listed (on the link referred to) isn't anything like a realistic Cretan Diet (*) - which after all SHOULD be synonymous with a Mediterranean Diet.
See the "eugenia.queru DOT com/2012/08/23/why-the-mediterraneancretan-diet-was-the-best/" link as listed in above comments.
(*) As an example, the link references coconuts as being a staple for Cretans and native grown there. Not true. Crete is well outside the growth zone for coconuts, as is the Mediterranean in general (especially northern Mediterranean areas) -- and as specified by Greek natives (and Wikipedia and many other reference sources):
(At "quora DOT com" - see "Are-there-coconuts-in-Greece")
And "spelt"? So what? It might be "ancient wheat" and less gluten than modern wheat... but it is NOT Paleo! And Cretans were regularly eating spelt versus regular wheat in the 1950s and 1960s???
Like with quinoa, smelt requires processing beyond the capability of Paleolithic peoples.
And Cretans ate almost no refined sugar, only small amounts of honey (of course), going against the grain of the tide of rising sugar consumption that had gone on for over 100 years throughout the world, but especially Europe (and Greece and Italy and Malta and Cyprus and Sardinia and Corsica)... but not Crete??? No, I think that their sugar consumption levels increased over the last 200+ years at a similar rate. Not just since 1970.
Fermented legumes? I mean, were the Paleo people known for their ability to process legumes - and then ferment them! Plus I can't seem to find any recipes of fermented beans as being a Cretan staple. And coconuts??? That really gets it.
Are there websites on the Cretan Diet? Absolutely. But are they portrayed as realistic as the truth of the REAL native Cretan Diet -- or the Okinawan Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, the Hunza Diet, etcetera, or, if accurately portrayed - as it appears the Hunza, Vilcabamba, and Tarahumara diets are - do they deliver the health and fitness and medical benefits alleged?
Most are simply made up as personal biases - or don't really deliver the claimed benefits (malnutrition being one of the listed reasons for low life expectancy for those native people's who DO reach age 12... as well as a major reason for the horribly high infant mortality rate and children who don't make it to age 12, along with infectious diseases).
Ironically enough, author Christopher McDougall, who has a very high regard for Crete and its customs, details in his latest book "Natural Born Heroes" how it was in studying Crete from their "heroic health" in World War 2 and earlier that he learned that his low fat high carb diet (as he had emphasized from his time with the Tarahumaras) was WRONG and that a much lower carb, high fat diet - as employed by the Cretans - was the way to go, that one needed to eat mainly FAT to burn bodyfat (I disagree with MOST of his book but do support a very strict Paleo Diet approach, which he "gets" even if not fully right ... especially if it is very low carb, high fat - specifically animal fat from meats of ALL types, along with other sources as noted below).
As far as the Tarahumara, there is so much fiction in their story that it reminds me of the mythical stories of "Hunza Shangri La, Super Healthy, Super Fit, Super Longevity" books from the 1960s - 1970s (Rodale's being put out in 1948) that turned out to be so much BS.
They (Hunzas) were not more healthy, or more fit, and had no greater lifespan than most First World countries (in fact, much less.... many of them had no idea how old they were, as elders were revered, so lying about one's age was common - and even more so when the first Westerners made their way into the very isolated lands - just like with the supposed "hidden" Tarahumara people, who have been written about for a century and are 1 days drive across the border - and all those non medical type authors who didn't know better, so the locals lied even more as they recognized that was what these authors wanted to hear).
(At Wikipedia - see "Burusho people" - the Hunzas)
(Read the paragraph concerning Dr. John Clark - and also his book, which is the best of the books out there, most being, like Rodale's, pure junk and BS. Also note that the average life expectancy is roughly age 53 - still better than the age 44, down from their age 45 just about 10 years ago, for the Tarahumaras.... Read Clark's "Hunzas, Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas" to see just how bad things really were in "Shangri La" - and this was 8 years after Rodale's "The Healthy Hunzas" and just six years before Renee Taylor's "Hunza: The Himalayan Shangri La".)
(At "biblelife DOT org" - see Hunzas)
(This site has numerous additional excellent data links. The religious side of it may or may not be your thing - personally I am a fairly secular Deist - but the dietary / nutrition info links are excellent; the other links range from "meh" to "weird")
Likewise, read Pennington's "The Tarahumar of Mexico", Bennett's "The Tarahumara, An Ancient Indian Tribe of Northern Mexico" and Zing's "Behind the Mexican Mountains" for more realistic pictures of the Tarahumara people as compared to the drivel in McDougall's "Born to Run"!
His book was as fictitious concerning the health and fitness of the Tarahumara people as Renee Taylor and Carl Classic books were regarding the Hunzas (the Burusho people)
(At wikipedia - See "Tarahumara people")
The same hogwash was applied to other isolated native groups (NONE of whom were eating a truly Paleolithic Diet).
For example the Vilcabamba people of (one village) of Ecuador. After the myth was bought into a and propagated by authors such as Davies ("Centenarians of the Andes") and Robbins ("Healthy at 100"), actual research by Dr. Mazees and Dr. Forman showed that there were NO centenarians in the village, that the oldest was 96, that the average age of those reporting to be over 100 was 86, and that the actual average lifespan was less than that of America (which does not rate that high in today's world).
(At "healthpromoting DOT com" /learning-center/articles/ See "life-expectancy")
Further Research showed that the village simply appeared older due to the fact that the younger people had over the last few generations immigrated away from the village, plus high heat and dryness - and a very hard living lifestyle - had wrinkled and aged skin (hair, etcetera) quite significantly which gave a much older appearance (the same as occurred with the Tarahumara).
(At Wikipedia look up Vilcabamba in Ecuador)
Being so highly vegetarian, the "NATIVE diets" of these groups fall strongly in the context of these myths:
(See the Weston Price DOT org site and search "myths of vegetarianism")
I guess the bottom line though is... so what?
None of these native traditional diets (whether their REAL one or their fictitious one as published) are Paleo. Most are by far hardly even close to Paleo. I am not concerned about what Hunzas or Tarahumaras or Vilcabamba peoples (or Okinawan or Mediterranean or Cretan people's) ate 50 years ago or 100 years ago or 500 years ago.
The VAST majority of these dietary items are Neolithic, not Paleolithic.
What did Hunter-Gatherer Paleolithic peoples eat 50,000 years ago? And 100,000 years ago? And 500,000 years ago? THAT is Paleolithic.
And I have been "into" the Paleolithic Diet scene since the mid 1990s - and the Low Carb Diet off-and-on for the 20 years before that (though unfortunately more experimentally for way too long before realizing that Dr. Atkins and company DID have it right).
In fact, currently I am more into the LCHF Diet concept with as strong a lean as possible towards Paleo. I look at what it meant to be Paleo and work in that direction. In my early years it was emphasized that Paleo Diet meant food that a Paleolithic Man could catch or gather with a long sharp stick (spear) and very basic stone tools... And to eat, digest, and receive nutrients from in a bioavailabile process RAW (yes, cooking - which Paleolithic Man developed - is preferable for nearly ALL foods as it increases digestibility and bioavailability - and taste! - and decreases bad things like parasites, phytates, oxalic acids, protease inhibitors, trips in inhibitors, and other antinutrients, as ably described in "Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human".... but the bottom line for dividing between Paleo and Neolithic was whether the food COULD be eaten raw and with NO processing that was not available to Paleo Man beyond simple tools).
Taking that into context and blending it in with the proven (repeatedly) benefits of LCHF diets - as recently adopted by the Swedish "FDA" for their national recommendation - would mean:
1. No grains, no legumes, pretty much no tubers (yes, some would fit the "raw" criteria, but too much carbs), And really no starches, period.
2. No sugars. No refined (cane, sugar beet, etcetera) sugars. No fructose (especially fruit juices - a 12-ounce glass of Orange juice has the same sugar levels of a 12-ounce Coke). Very minimal fruit. Not only was fruit back then much smaller and much less sweet, but it has... fructose. Additionally, back then fruits (as well as vegetables and tubers) simply weren't ripe year-round. People who didn't grow up on a farm, rural environment, or wilderness area simply don't grasp that. The infamous coconut? It takes a year to fully ripen. In tropical jungle areas, yes. But Man, very early Man left those jungles to expand out into the Savannah grasslands found only small clumps of trees and bushes here and there with what small amounts of fruits / tubers / vegetables (greens) that they might offer - IF they were ripe. His main food source was Meat (and some occasional eggs and even less occasional fish for quite some time). Meat. Fats (for energy). Protein (for growth). And his brain growth and energy levels (and free time from not having to spend so much of his waking hours EATING - as did his primate cousins back in the jungles).
3. Which leads to allowing in... butter and heavy cream and hard cheeses (not strictly Paleo as he could not have processed, but definitely very good animal fats) - but no milk with its milk sugars / lactose. And... coconut milk and oil. Not Paleo (same problem with processing) but definitely excellent fats. Omega-3 fish oil and CLA supplementation to counter the grain-feeding of commercial food animal (mainly beef and chicken) to re-establish proper ratios between Omega 6 and Omega-3 oils - maybe these elitist Paleo writers can afford serious, regular amounts of grass-fed beef and free-range chickens and bison and emu and ostrich... but to me they simply aren't affordable on a regular basis (fortunately I love mutton / lamb and almost all mutton / lamb marketed today is pastured). Likewise, for snacks / travel foods - though again not something that Paleo Man could process - summer sausages (without sugars) and REAL jerky and pemmican as all are very good QUALITY proteins while the first and last items also have superior levels of very good healthy fats.
on May 30, 2013
at 02:09 PM
I suspect that vitamin d3, vitamin a and vitamin k2 are playing a role with nutrient absorption.
on May 30, 2013
at 08:39 AM
Jamie's response was impressive. I've been reading Nourishing Traditions. After reading Jamie's post, I can't be completely certain that Weston Price did a thorough review off all aspects of traditional peoples' diets, before coming up with his recommendations that Sally Fallon wrote about.
I'm pretty sure for me personally, I need to eat more meat because I do Bikram yoga and have heavy periods so I'm losing a lot of iron.
I'm still confused and anxious about whether I should be drinking tea, coffee, and cocoa for the antioxidants however. Asian cultures drink a lot of tea but tea depletes minerals. So tea is life-preserving? Coffee and cocoa are similar to tea in that they have polyphenols, etc.
I add milk to my tea to counteract the iron loss. Who knows if this is what I'm supposed to do?
Yet the Japanese and Chinese drink their tea without milk. I find tea to be a very traditional drink and Paleo IMO but Sally Fallon writes against the consumption of tea, coffee, cocoa.
on October 27, 2012
at 01:27 PM
LOL The Masai have incredible health? Low Carb gives you brain damage bro, heres the proof.
They haven't invented anything in over 6000 years.
Their building skills are sub-par to that of a beaver.
They have the average mental capacity of an 11 year old from any civilized culture.