The reason I hear most for why grains are bad is that they contain anti nutrients. Grains are seeds and since it is disadvantageous for them to be eaten (they can't reproduce that way) they evolved to contain anti nutrients to stop animals from consuming them.
But most paleo eaters embrace nuts which are also seeds. Why wouldn't nuts also have anti nutrients. Also, what about leafy greens? It seems disadvantageous for a plant's photosynthesizing leaves to be eaten. Why haven't leaves evolved to have anti nutrients as well?
I'm not trying to bash or disprove paleo, I'm just trying to get a more clear explanation because what I've heard so far seems like pseudo science.
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on March 14, 2014
at 08:21 PM
Personally, I don't like the "paleo" moniker. I'm not trying to recreate what a cave man ate. I'm looking back a much shorter time period, before our agriculture became industrialized, manipulated and poisoned. I much prefer the term "ancestral diet" and I don't have to go back much farther than my grandmother, to a time when people still ate their food whole, organically grown, and pastured as a matter of course, and most often local as well. Grandma ate plenty of offal (I remember tongue, lungs ("Lungen"--I did NOT like those!), sweetbreads, liver, stuffed kishka (beef intestines--and yes, it's YUMMY!) and she taught me to especially love bone marrow. She relished crispy poultry skin, rendered the fat, and never worried about eating whole foods. She made the most incredible bone broth back when it was called chicken soup and was not considered trendy.
It's true that she ate grains--bread, noodles (she sometimes made noodles herself!), dumplings, and things like buckwheat groats (kasha). I choose not to eat modern grains because they are harming my health. I've cut out sugar as well. I know sugar was not very plentiful in her "Old Country" youth--she, my mother, and I always put SALT on hot cereals (I was in college the first time I saw someone put sugar on their oatmeal, and I was SHOCKED!), "dessert" was often stewed fruit.
I'm in this for health which has improved vastly since getting rid of processed, industrialized foods, I don't care if the caveman had lamb shanks braised in wine or not, as long as I do. I do try to avoid legumes because they don't seem to do my gut much good, I don't care if the caveman ate them or not.
Sometimes we get too wrapped up in labels. I'm not wrapping myself in animal skins and going out to hunt the neighborhood deer with a bow and arrows, and cook the meat on an open fire. I'll be content with making chopped liver as good as Grandma's, and being secure in the knowledge that it's not "a heart attack on a plate".
on March 14, 2014
at 05:13 PM
Nuts don't need antinutrients for defense. They grow in trees and out of reach of most animals. That is their natural defense.
on March 14, 2014
at 04:47 PM
@glib@thhq & @raydawg all make good answers / comments. Considering the items available as "food" to person living in a 1st world country... there are items definitely to avoid, items definitely to include and there are items in the middle that consumption depends on the person's reaction AND the dose.
My experience with finally "arriving" at paleo, is that it is an ongoing n=1 experiment. I seem to tolerate dairy quite well (no observed negative effects), so include full fat yogurt & kefir and low fat cottage cheese rom grass fed pastured cows. Do each a ton of it per week, no. One qt yogurt lasts about 2 weeks, the kefir about 2 or three weeks, the cottage cheese a week. Compared to my total caloric intake these numbers are not large.
@Paleounsure the points you bring up are valid, plants don't want their seeds, leaves or unripe fruit eaten. Dr, Georgia Ede, a real MD & a very thoughtful person, has struggled with her own dietary issues. She blogged daily, weekly & monthly about her personal journey into 'paleo' & keto.
She also presents articles about seeds, nuts, grains AND one about nightshades... both worth reading. Not all nightshades are identical. She also questions whether 'vegetables' are really as benign / safe as people commonly think.
All of this is food for thought, but what really matters is how YOUR body functions on the food YOU feed it.
Not everyone reacts to the same foods at the same doses in the same way. I think one of the best things about paleo is that it encourages 'mindful' eating... what will be the outcome of what I'm about to eat? Of course, over time, we hope fully determine what works & what doesn't and it all becomes easier.
I have not truly evaluated nightshades because they don't seem to bother me and I really don't want the bad news of having to eliminate them...same with onions, I have an inkling that they are problematic but "I don't want to know".
I think most people, except the hardest core palo-nazi's, are satisfied with "good enough" and don't strive for perfect. I'm down 30lbs, 3" in my waist and I'm in the ~15% body range... I look & feel fit. I'm not willing to 'work harder'.
The final part of my answer...yes, paleo is part science, part pseudo science, part faith, part guess work. Unfortunately, if we wait for the science to be truly 'settled' before we make changes or adjustments.... we'll be dead.
Worse.....Blindly follow the conventional wisdom, without considering it's impact on us and we'll continue eating the whole grains (esp wheat), high carb, lowfat diets that allow sugar (Ornish? & Pritikin?).
Which, imo (n=2) leads to heart disease and cancer.... I'm willing to 'veer off course' and mindfully choose a different path. Will it be better? Seems better so far, we'll see in the long run. :)
on March 14, 2014
at 02:23 AM
Paleo's main claim is that evolution was complete before the Neolithic period, and that we have not had time to successfully adapt to the effects of agricultural foods. From this starting point, many foods are excluded. Especially grains, but also dairy products and the solanaceae (peppers/tomatoes/potatoes).
Glib is right. The objection to lectins could be raised against many non-grain foods, and if strictly followed would exclude those foods as well.
The bro-science part is also correct. Paleo's underlying assumption is not a scientific one, but an anthropological observation. Applying "science" to this is more like theology, and becomes a matter of faith by adherents. Paleo's rejection of gluten (or lectin, or fructose, or whatever) down to the last molecule becomes a cause for crusaders, who grab any prop they think will help. For instance, calling raisins Satan's rabbit droppings. Only an idiot would say this outside the Paleo revival tent. Yet many Paleos shout stuff like this from the rooftops, oblivious to the world howling in laughter.
I try to look at the anthropology side and practice it as much as I can to improve my health. Two things that have changed for the worse since Paleo times. We eat far more plant matter, which is driving the benefits of meat out of our diets. We are far more sedentary, which is wreaking havoc on our cardiovascular health.
on March 14, 2014
at 12:37 AM
What you say is right. No part of any plant wants to be eaten (except the flesh of ripe fruits), and they will create phytochemicals accordingly. Indeed, there are more lectins in chard (one of my favorite vegetables, I plant upward of 50 plants in my garden every year) than in wheat, per gram. Nuts, beans, leafy greens, stalks, flowers, roots, all the same, they have toxins and they will use them. I much prefer the lighter beans to nuts, because they are soaked and thoroughly cooked and I digest them much better than raw nuts (or milk). They also have large amounts of Mg, folacin, and K, which are not easy to get on paleo without special care. In short, you still have to try and see what agrees with you better.