2

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Paleo: caveman diet vs optimal diet

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 19, 2013 at 6:51 PM

What is your philosophy of paleo based upon?

It seems that many people try to figure out what cave men ate and eat the same things, or as close to it as they can.

I see the cave man philosophy as a good theory that provides a base of how to approach nutrition and other aspects of life.

However, now that I have a base of understanding what the introduction of agriculture meant to health, I have removed from my thinking what cave men did, and focus on what my body and science shows to be healthy. I don't give a poo what Grok ate anymore. I appreciate that understanding that provides us some interesting perspectives and things to try, but I'm not here to recreate a cave man.

Am I the only one? How do you approach paleo?

32be195157f00ad15a933b8bb333dcc4

(379)

on January 23, 2013
at 01:37 AM

I am pretty new at this (3 months), read the basics (Primal Body, Primal Mind; Paleo Solution, Whole30 book, lots of MDA/other blog posts), and noticed that some people on PH were justifying their choices based on what was available back in paleolithic times, not really on what was healthiest for them based on personal experimentation and trusted scientific studies (or maybe it was that they didn't trust either but trusted our understanding of ancestors). I label myself paleo, but I base my version of it on what I think will make me healthier, not would have been available.

32be195157f00ad15a933b8bb333dcc4

(379)

on January 22, 2013
at 01:32 AM

How do you feel about traditional medicine, like eat this root for a headache, medicine man type stuff? I don't see how that's much different than taking pills stuffed with micronutrients. The medicine man has little evidence that his therapy works or kills, there is a lot of study that goes behind the pills we make today to show good and bad things that happen as a result of taking them.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 21, 2013
at 09:41 PM

The only paleo context for consumption was food, therefore the pill is a strictly modern construct. I have difficulty with the hybrid vegetable, but I have more difficulty with people eating fish oil capsules instead of fish and mineral supplements instead of grains. We live in a modern world by necessity; we can't go back to the low population densities necessary to make true paleo life possible; but we can successfully emulate some of the behaviors. Is taking pills to get nutrients really necessary?

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on January 21, 2013
at 09:03 PM

A pill is not structurally/chemically similar to a vegetable: it contains virtually no macronutrients (fat/protein/carbs). Though it can replace micronutrients (vitamins/minerals), we shouldn't consider micronutrients in isolation from their nutritional context (in a whole food, in a pill, etc). The same micronutrients can have different effects on the body depending on the context in which they are consumed. This is consistent with biochemistry.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 21, 2013
at 01:34 PM

Which is worse, eating a hybrid vegetable or taking an industrial-grade supplement to replace the vegetable's nutrients?

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on January 21, 2013
at 12:40 PM

Few paleo folk will disagree that biochemistry trumps anthropology, contrary to what Matt Stone thinks*

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 20, 2013
at 02:32 AM

I only care what cavemen ate. Science is one faulty experiment after another and fairly useless in the pursuit of optimal. Grock on!

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 20, 2013
at 02:32 AM

I only care what cavemen ate. Science is one faulty experiment after another and fairly useless in the pursuing optimal. Grock on!

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on January 19, 2013
at 09:07 PM

"Cavemen". FFS.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on January 19, 2013
at 07:06 PM

This is pretty much what the whole paleo 2.0 approach meant, before it was rebranded as archevore and then disappeared altogether.

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5 Answers

2
7e6644836cdbcbe2b06307ff7db92d31

(693)

on January 19, 2013
at 07:01 PM

I'm not a reenactor and am looking for the optimal diet. For the most part though, I find the caveman diet to be the optimal diet.

The one major exception might be vegetables. I try to eat tons of vegetables, many of which weren't around back then. There are positive correlations with vegetable consumption and health, and my suspicion is that no matter how vigilant, we are bathed in chemicals in this modern world, and that the antioxidants etc. in plants provide a strong health benefit in this environment.

1
Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 21, 2013
at 01:32 PM

I backed into paleo 6 years ago. I believe in emulating two things from Grok. First and foremost hunt-and-gather behavior. I've tried to move from sedentary behavior to being outdoors and active. Good weather or bad I'm disappointed if I haven't covered 10 miles a day working, getting groceries, etc. Second meat eating. I strive to get the freshest seafood possible these days, though if I move off the coast that will have to switch to something else.

I don't care about the modern dogmas. Especially those that involve non-paleo behaviors like supplementing and avoiding macronutrient groups. My interest in paleo does not remotely involve Atkins and Taubes....

32be195157f00ad15a933b8bb333dcc4

(379)

on January 22, 2013
at 01:32 AM

How do you feel about traditional medicine, like eat this root for a headache, medicine man type stuff? I don't see how that's much different than taking pills stuffed with micronutrients. The medicine man has little evidence that his therapy works or kills, there is a lot of study that goes behind the pills we make today to show good and bad things that happen as a result of taking them.

1
0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on January 21, 2013
at 12:31 PM

Few paleo folk will disagree that biochemistry trumps anthropology. The idea is that our biochemistry aligns with a paleo-based template. This does not mean eating the exact same foods as our ancestors. There are many foods that paleo people eat which were not available to "cavemen" (especially fruits and vegetables), however they will have structural and chemical similarities and similar macronutrient profiles. I was offered a hybrid between a zucchini and a pumpkin which someone grew in their garden and I happily ate it. There is nothing about my biochemistry which would make this an unhealthy food for me, but that isn't a knock to paleo.

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on January 21, 2013
at 12:40 PM

Few paleo folk will disagree that biochemistry trumps anthropology, contrary to what Matt Stone thinks*

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 21, 2013
at 09:41 PM

The only paleo context for consumption was food, therefore the pill is a strictly modern construct. I have difficulty with the hybrid vegetable, but I have more difficulty with people eating fish oil capsules instead of fish and mineral supplements instead of grains. We live in a modern world by necessity; we can't go back to the low population densities necessary to make true paleo life possible; but we can successfully emulate some of the behaviors. Is taking pills to get nutrients really necessary?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 21, 2013
at 01:34 PM

Which is worse, eating a hybrid vegetable or taking an industrial-grade supplement to replace the vegetable's nutrients?

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on January 21, 2013
at 09:03 PM

A pill is not structurally/chemically similar to a vegetable: it contains virtually no macronutrients (fat/protein/carbs). Though it can replace micronutrients (vitamins/minerals), we shouldn't consider micronutrients in isolation from their nutritional context (in a whole food, in a pill, etc). The same micronutrients can have different effects on the body depending on the context in which they are consumed. This is consistent with biochemistry.

0
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on January 22, 2013
at 09:47 PM

That depends on what the question means. What does "optimal diet" mean specifically? Is an optimal diet for you the same as one for me? How do you know/tell, if not through something like a 30 day elimination?

Far as I can tell, google doesn't know this term as a specific diet.

And, by the way, it was never called "caveman diet." I smell someone who is either new at this, or might have an agenda.

The Paleo diet was never specifically to emulate what Neanderthals or Homo Erectus ate specifically, but rather to eliminate neolithic foods and food like substances that cause problems.

By avoiding specific harmful substances, which may be called neolithic agents of disease, we remain healthy. It works because we evolved eating certain kinds of animals, fruits, and nuts, and can safely consume the same, or similar. So it's not eating exactly like cavemen, but rather eliminating toxins. Sort of the idea that the Jaminets have though not necessarily at the same carb level. This idea flows through many popular versions such as Dave Asprey, Robb Wolf's and Loren Cordain's, etc.

The evolutionary aspect of it, however, doesn't just apply to food, but also how we sleep - and the kinds of lights we're exposed to at what times, and how we move. So yes, in that sense, some of us seek to move like "cavemen" and we find we do better that way, but I didn't see you ask what might "optimal" sleep or movement be, or why - these have a huge impact on health.

If you get 3 hours of sleep a night, no matter how optimal your diet it, you will go downhill fast. If you sit on a chair 16 hours a day, that too will raise your mortality despite your diet.

32be195157f00ad15a933b8bb333dcc4

(379)

on January 23, 2013
at 01:37 AM

I am pretty new at this (3 months), read the basics (Primal Body, Primal Mind; Paleo Solution, Whole30 book, lots of MDA/other blog posts), and noticed that some people on PH were justifying their choices based on what was available back in paleolithic times, not really on what was healthiest for them based on personal experimentation and trusted scientific studies (or maybe it was that they didn't trust either but trusted our understanding of ancestors). I label myself paleo, but I base my version of it on what I think will make me healthier, not would have been available.

-1
997961bed6d85b557a09763fbd62a45b

on January 21, 2013
at 10:04 AM

Well I been using [spam link removed] for 2 months now, lost already 30 pounds. It helps!

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