I made this last week hoping to use it as a tool to talk with people about paleo and other alternative diets. It can be often be difficult because so many people tell me that foragers are not healthy and that our modern life is the best. They have images from National Geographic of impoverished "primitives" and the "didn't they only live to be 30" meme in mind. Often they will tell me that they are so glad for modern life because if they had been born back then they would have died because they need a C-section or had some horrible case of strep throat.
They aren't really separating environmental issues from food. In much of modern middle class America, our environment is low-risk. Notice that I didn't say better. There are plenty of things wrong with our environment ranging from over-sanitation to lack of sunlight. In fact there might be chronic low grade risks in the modern environment from environmental contamination, too much light, etc. But we generally don't have to worry about risky childbirth, lions, tribal warfare, malaria, tuberculosis, hunting accidents, and all kinds of nasty things that are out there in the wild.
Our hazards are largely caused by an inappropriate diet that leaves us with obesity, diabetes, cancer, IBS, GERD and other diseases that are almost exclusively present in modern society. The standard american diet leaves us in quadrant III, not worrying about lions, but worrying about blood sugar and BMI instead. Pairing nutrition appropriate for human beings with the benefits of modern life allows us to move to quadrant IV. Notice I include Whole Foods Vegan there. I certainly believe you can lose weight on such a diet, I just don't believe it's an optimal diet. A truly optimal diet like WAPF or paleo allows the possibility of raising truly healthy children with well developed teeth and bones. Personally veganism also wasn't adequate to help me heal from GERD and my teeth weren't in such great shape afterwards either. But I'm throwing a cookie here to vegans that at least don't eat processed crap, vegetable oils, and sugar. They are better off than most, especially if they are utilizing fermentation of grains, legumes, and vegetables. A vegetarian diet that includes fermented dairy and eggs is even closer to being appropriate nutrition for our econiche.
You'll notice that modern hunter-gatherers have less appropriate nutrition and a harsher environment than their paleolithic predecessors. Civilization has pushed them into unwanted land that less oppressed foragers would have shunned. They also struggle with diseases introduced by outsiders.
Nomads and agrarian peasant cultures are also relatively healthy. They are eating neolithic foods, but they have been eating them long enough to know how to derive nutrition from them and minimize their antinutritional factors through fermentation and soaking. Lots of people look at these cultures and think "oh, well I guess their genes adapted to agriculture and it's OK for me to eat this Nutrigrain bar since my ancestors were agrarian." Nope, most of the adaptation was not genetic, but technological. People figured out that if they fermented and limed their corn they didn't have malformed bones. I tell people who are skeptical of paleo to go ahead and eat grains, but at least embrace the technology so many of us have forgotten that allows us to not poison ourselves with them. So many people read about the Tarahumara made famous in Born To Run and think that their health means some boiled corn on the cob is superfood. Wrong- the Tarahumara soak and lime their corn.
I don't do grains much myself because while these technologies these traditional societies came up with are amazing, they don't completely rid grains of their problems. Most of these cultures still preferred meat and ate grains and legumes only because they couldn't afford it. Traditional agrarians aren't fat or diabetic, but their height and bone structure just doesn't approach that of coastal foragers from the studies I've read.
Regardless, this chart isn't any sort of rigorously scientific study- we could probably argue for days where to place things, but it's a decent matrix for separating appropriate nutrition from other factors. That's definitely only one part of the picture, but it's a very important part. The other pieces are important too- sunlight, community, loving child rearing, a not too sterile environment, and being physically active for example. But dealing with the diet is a great first step.
Last week I was soooooooo busy. Between snowstorms and planning events, I had no time to go to the grocery store. I ended eating out for more meals than I care to admit, especially since I just finished The Art of Eating In by Cathy Erway. It's mostly a fun book about cooking, cookoffs, and secret underground restaurants, but it's also an impassioned defense of cooking. In New York City, land of busy people, cooking needs it! Cathy talks about how cooking not only saves money, but gives you a whole new view of food. Instead of being just a foodie, you really get to know food.
Cathy doesn't follow any special diet, but if you follow the paleo diet, cooking is even more beneficial. You get to manage every single ingredient, which is hard in a restaurant. Yeah, you might order just meat and vegetables, but who knows where the meat came from or what oil was used to stir fry the vegetables? If you are using the paleo diet to battle health problems or to improve the quality of your life, you have to remember that these little things can make a big difference.
It's interesting because this week I'm totally committed to eating in, so now I can compare how I eat. Here's my diary:
Monday LAST week: Got a salad with mixed greens, buffalo, yam, and mushrooms at The Pump for about $9. It sounded delicious, but really it's just flavorless. By the afternoon I'm totally wilting and spacing out...I snack on some dried fruit I had next to my desk, but it just makes me more hungry. Ugh. I bet the lean buffalo was cooked in some crap canola oil.
Monday THIS week: Presidents Day, so I didn't have to work. I eat some delicious delicious pork belly, using up my frozen supply. Guess I need to buy more.
Tuesday LAST week: Got Chipotle salad bowl for $8.50 with some pork. Asked for more pork...but sadly it seems like it's mostly lettuce and tomatoes. One hour later and I'm sooooooooooo hungry. What's for dinner?
Tuesday THIS week: Pumpkin soup made with coconut milk/chicken stock and buffalo with a seaweed and walnut salad. Pretty delicious and nutritious! I'm satisfied!
Wednesday LAST Week: Lunch buffet at Free Foods. This looks promising. I'm really excited to eat wild salmon, marinated portobello mushrooms, raw vegan pad thai, cashew creme, and roasted beets...but it ends up costing an arm and a leg. Frustratingly enough, I end up hungry again and ravenous by the time I get home for dinner. Like most "healthy" midtown restaurants, Free Foods skimps on the fat. I don't know how anyone survives on this kind of food. I contemplate going to a vending cart, but reconsider when I think too hard about what might be in the delicious creamy white sauce at the Halal cart...last time I ate there I ended up with a stomach ache.
Wednesday THIS week: Simple sausage sauteed with butternut squash in some coconut oil, plus a small seaweed salad. Didn't seem like much food, but I'm full the rest of the day.
Conclusion: Well, the week isn't over yet! But I've got some more killer lunches planned. In the past I learned that my lunches need lots of fat, pumpkin/yams/beets or other substantial vegetable for calories, and a salad. Last month I had trouble because I was just eating things like fish and mushrooms, which is not enough fat or calories. But once I got simple and satisfying lunches down, I saved money and felt better! Eating out isn't bad, but I think I'll reserve it for restaurants that don't skimp on the fat and use meat I feel good eating, like Momofuku or Lot 2.
Some readers have wondered: what's the big deal about these omega-3 fatty acids you have been talking about? So here is a list of important facts and why you should care about them.
Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that both have important roles to play. The scientific evidence shows that omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in the health of the heart and the brain as discussed in this post from Mark's Daily Apple on Fats.
The standard American diet is very very high in omega-6 fatty acids primarily from vegetable oils and grains and fairly low in omega-3 fatty acids. Why is this bad? From an evolutionary perspective it's inappropriate- we evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 that was 2:1- 1:1. There is strong evidence excess omega–6 intake prevents the body from utilizing omega-3 and even depletes it from our body.
Of course we can have a brain without adequete omega-3s, but for optimal mental development omega-3s play a huge role. This post at Whole Health Source talks about research showing that deficient children suffered various effects ranging from low verbal intelligence to poor social behavior.
In another post he talks about how omega-3s play a huge role in the risk for heart disease.Omega-6s oils are often considered heart-healthy, but this is based on outdated and misinterpreted research. The unfortunate connsquences of a high-omega 6 diet are evident in the Israeli Paradox: people in Israeli consume tons of "heart healthy" oils like soybean oil, yet have very high rates of heart disease.
Seafood is the primary source of omega-3s that are readily utilized by the body. Flax and some other plant sources have small amounts, but their conversion to the usable form is low, though this can be increased by decreasing intake of omega-6 as I discussed in my post about seeds. The most interesting evidence, which Susan Allport talks about in The Queen of Fats, comes from a study that compared Africans eating no fish compared to Minnesotans eating some fish, but also lots of Western high omega-6 foods. The Africans had more optimal omega-3 levels! Their low omega-6 intake allows them to utilize more of the omega-3s found in plants.
The role of the ratio is controversial. Some believe that as long as your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 10:1-1:1, you are in the clear, but Stephen from Whole Health source presented some good evidence that the total amount of omega-6 is more important. His conclusion is that you should get no more than 4% of our calories from omega-6 fats. The sad fact is that eating lots of fish and fish oil might help with preventing heart disease, but it's like putting a bandaid on a severed arm if omega-6 intake continues to be high. Acculturated Inuit still eat plenty of fish, but that so far hasn't protected them from getting obesity and diabetes from consuming too much omega-6.
The bottom line is that omega-3s are important and too much omega-6 is damaging. Ditch the high-omega 6 oils (safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, canola) and anything with them (store-bought mayo and sauces unfortunately). All the omega-6s you need can be obtained by consuming nuts and fruit oils like olive oil..though not too much of course! It's also probably wise to consume some seafood or fish oil, but the lower the consumption of omega-6s is, the lower that need is. I personally don't take fish oil anymore because it does have some side effects (burping, bleeding more when cut) that I found unpleasant and it's hard to find a fresh and environmentally friendly source.
I hope Stephen from Whole Health Source writes a book about this someday! The only book I can recommend right now is Susan Allport's The Queen of Fats, which is an interesting primer, though unfortunately it focuses too much on the ratio theory.
Outside Magazine recently had one of their reporters try the Paleo Diet for Athletes. His cholesterol improved, but he felt hungry and irritable, which caused him to ultimately dismiss the diet. I think one of the problems with The Paleo Diet for Athletes is that is doesn't do a complete paradigm shift. Eating lots of lean protein and continuing to fear fat is actually not a paleo diet.
I don't believe that paleo diet is a magic diet that I want everyone to follow. However, I do believe thinking about diet in terms of human evolution is extremely valuable. Many of my close friends and family members aren't going to be paleo any time soon either whether it's because they oppose eating animals or because they can't imagine breakfast without oatmeal. Luckily, I think there are simple steps anyone can take to improve their diet using evolution as a lense.
- Rethink fat. So many people think saturated fat is the villian and soybean oil is going to save us from heart disease. Reading Gary Taube's Good Calories Bad Calories is a good way to allay your fears that fat is the problem. Follow up with Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient by Jennifer McLagan to learn about the health and culinary benefits of fat. Learn about how real food nourishes and fake foods kill with Nina Planck's Real Food. If you are interested in the health of your brain, skin, and other vital organs you can read about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in The Queen of Fats by Susan Allport.This is also a good time to look at the vegetable oils on your shelves as elucidated by this post in Mark's Daily Apple and deciding which ones are industrial junk and which ones are
- Banish junk! Whether you are a committed vegetarian or interested in paleo, you can benefit from ditching doughnuts, candy, cookies, chips, and other junk. Sugar Shock by Connie Bennett is a good primer on the problems with sugar. The Whole Soy Story tells you why boca burgers and soy milk might not be such great choices. Explore the drawbacks of grains, particularly gluten, in Going Against The Grain by Melissa Smith. Learn about the consquences of industrial food in The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
- Think about food evolutionaily! Rethink your perception of paleolithic peoples and hunter-gatherers by reading Jared Diamond's essay The Worst Mistake(FREE) and Weston A. Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration(FREE). Learn about and try the paleo diet. There are many good books that you can start with like The Primal Blueprint or Neanderthin. Plus there are tons of free web resources ranging from blogs to Paleohacks. Question whether "inevitable nuisances" in life like acne, heavy periods, stomach upset, constipation, etc. are inevitable or caused by diet. Try the paleo diet if you can and see if your health improves, maybe you can ID foods that cause problems.
- Hmm....I don't think this diet is for me, since grains/dairy does't bother me enough, I don't want to eat much meat, etc.. That's OK: you can still benefit from thinking about food evolutionarily. Reducing junk is one big step, but you can go further by reudcing the potential hazards of neolithic foods and unlocking their full nutritional potential through traditional preparations like fermentation and culturing . Learn more about this in the great cookbook Nourishing Traditions or the more vegetarian-friendly Full Moon Feast and Wild Fermentation (more here). You can also simply benefit by improving food quality- eating more nutritious foods like kale, yams, bone marrow, seaweed, grass fed meat, and wild fish. Get rid of boneless skinless chicken breasts and eat pastured pork belly or oysters instead. If you chose to eat grains, then ditch the plastic packaged store-bought bread and learn about fermenting and soaking traditional grains to unlock their nutrition. Follow blogs that promote traditional nutrition like Kelly The Kitchen Kop or The Nourishing Gourmet.
I write this from personal interest. While my boyfriend is interested in health, he doesn't see the need to go paleo and he really doesn't like eating meat. But it's very easy for us to eat nourishing meals together with things like pumpkin soup, sauteed mushrooms, buttered yams, pickled carrots, and garlic kale. Admittedly, I try to steer him away from things like Boca Burgers/soy milk and towards alternatives like homemade fermented dosas, properly soaked beans and farro, and traditional sourdough bread, but those things are delicious, so it doesn't take much convincing.
Highland Cattle from Veritas Farm Upstate...if you live Upstate, you should check them out! Beautiful healthy animals!
People are increasingly concerned about meat. Is it humane? What about scary food poisoning?* Is it sustainable? The only way to answer these questions is to know your farmer. I feel very comfortable eating meat from farms I know. The meat is tracable to a single animal and I can personally visit the farm to see that it's clean and the animals are living in a good environment. Contrast that with meat from the average grocery store which is probably several cows from god knows where all mixed together with a dash of ammonia. Food contamination is often due to processing mistakes...in the flurry of a slaughterhouse, entails get pierced and it often doesn't get noticed, contrast that with smaller slaughterhouses catering to small farmers that process only a few animals every day.
Where can I get meat I feel good about eating?
- Your local farmer's market or natural foods store. Eat Well Guide has a searchable lists of markets, restaurants, and stores!
- A skilled butcher is also a great option. Artisan butchers care and know a great deal about meat quality. Most eat their meat raw to test quality...if there is anyone in the city I trust, it's butchers. Try The Meat Hook, The Greene Grape, Marlow and Daughters, or Dickson's! You can read about the butcher workshop I attended at my travel blog.
- Contacting a farmer, this is often much cheaper! I suggest Local Harvest or Eat Wild.
- Meat CSAS. In NY I suggest The Piggery (I am a happy member), 8 O Clock Ranch, or the Traditional Nutrition Guild. Affordable and delicious meat delivered to you!
In terms of contacting a farmer, this is waaaaaaaaaaay underutilized. Lots of farmers are eager to sell meat without trekking all the way to NYC at 4 AM to sell at Union Square. If you contact a farmer you can pick it up yourself to see how the farm operates. Don't be shy: farmers want your business!
*It's as good a time as any to remind everyone that going meat free isn't going to prevent food poisoning. Bagged salad is certainly scarier than pastured ground beef.
A girl who used to live in my apartment left behind a subscription to Self magazine. Self actually used to be one of my favorite magazines when I was in high school and my early college years. I even did the "Self Challenge" to lose weight. It challenged you to go the gym and eat lots of healthy whole grains. Not surprisingly, my daily servings of Kashi honeyed cereal and treadmill plodding did nothing to fix the spare tire I had around my waist and my chronic stomach aches. These days when I read Self I want to laugh at all the plugs for skim milk, yogurt smoothies, egg white omelets, and whole grain cereals...but really, this is a magazine hundreds of thousands of women take seriously, so I just feel sad. I was even sadder to see an ad for a weight loss product that supposedly "cleanses" you from the toxins you supposedly acquire from eating unhealthier.
Uh, nothing makes me angrier than the "dirty" narrative many vegans particularly in the raw community subscribe to. According to it, meat and other naughty foods "putrify" in your colon, making it a toxic environment and causing pretty much every single problem you can think of. To atone you most scour your intestines with copious amounts of fiber to remove any traces of it and eat only "clean" and "pure" plant juices and salads. If you are sick it's YOUR fault for eating dirty foods. These myths, which have absolutely no science behind them, are perpetuated in popular books like Skinny Bitch.
The idea of the wrong diet being both physically and spiritually "unclean" has its roots in religion. Early pioneers of vegetarianism like cereal magnate Dr. Kellog used high fiber grains to cleanse the body of supposed impurities. It makes sense that such plenty proponents of vegetarianism also proscribed sex. Their mission was to separate people from their dirty Earthly bodies and desires. One of the reasons Kellog recommended vegetarianism was to reduce sexual desire.
Contrast that with the paleo paradigm, which simply exhorts people to eat foods that are appropriate for us evolutionarily. The paleo approach embraces things shunned by Kellog and his ilk, from dirt and bacteria (which help modulate our immune system) to bone marrow. Cleansing? Guilt-mongering pseudoscience. The hilarious things are that meat doesn't ferment in the digestive system at all! It's starches and other foods that the body can't immediately utilize that ferment. Diets like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for people with digestive ailments like colitis prohibit those foods because they are part of a vicious cycle.
Bacteria isn't bad, but modern sugary diets can alter the gut flora and upset the gut ecosystem by feeding some bacteria that may not be good to have too much of. Grains and other food that is not what the human body evolved to digest can muck things up, but that doesn't mean you are dirty and toxic. So called "toxic" fat is actually digested very easily and turned into energy by our bodies. Probably the best diet you can eat if you have IBS is one that's the opposite of gut-abrading raw vegetable and grain diets being pushed by making of the quackelite: fermented veggies and plenty of easily-digested fat. Notice how many people promoting particularly raw diets for digestive stuff are still consuming blended fruit goo and complaining about how important fussy food combining is despite being on the "right" diet for so long. Talk about skinny bitch...I found such a diet made me bony and irritable from hunger and malnourishment.
I found that the diet of fermented veggies and healthy fat put my IBS-attacked digestive system in good enough condition to eat normal foods within months. It both nourishes your digestive tract with important nutrients and stops the cycle of damage induced by inappropriate amounts of gut fermentation and irritating plant fibers and chemicals.
The truth is that the colon isn't full of toxic plaque...ask anyone who has actually worked on a human body instead of someone who wants to sell detox products:
Congratulations! You've just necrosed the mucosal layer of your intestinal lumen (English translation: you killed off the layer(s) of cells that line the inside of your intestine). I've been a paramedic for 16+ years, and am now in nursing school, and I've seen what mucosae looks like when it's been chemically abraded with, say, Drano: kind of brown/yellow, stringy, "mucusy," and looks a little like chicken fat. When intestinal mucosa is damaged/killed, it's not uncommon for it to slough off in strips or large sections, and to come out looking as described. Our bodies have mucosae and produce mucus for a reason. While it may be trendy to chemically peel it off and admire it in the collander in which you caught it, you've just screwed with the interface between your nutrients and your body, not to mention that you've given all the bacteria that inhabit your colon a great way to enter your blood and lymphatic fluid. Better hope your immune system is functioning well for the next few days.
As far as I'm concerned, as soon as I see loaded unscientific words like "toxin" and "putrid" I pretty much know the writer is pushing a agenda that has little to do with how the human body actually works. As a free thinker and as a woman, I want to reject this sort of quasi-relgious dogma that makes women feel like their problems are caused by being "unclean" and that the way to cleanse themselves is to torment their bodies with sugary juices and calorie-lacking salads.
Paleolithic people didn't need to stick hoses up their asses to feel good and digest properly...we don't need these things either.
Postscript: I also find it hilarious when people brag about going number two 4X times a day or more, like that's a good thing. As far as I'm concerned that's a bad thing to spend so much time in the toilet and have your insides depleted. Eades has a good take on this.
What do people eating an evolutionarily appropriate diet eat? Well. lots of things, as I try to demonstrate with my paleo foods section.Eating Paleo in NYC had a great party last night and it was wonderful to see the huge diversity of food on the menu and to meet everyone!
Berries, sprouts, nuts, raw beef, grassfed butter, chili, Indian lamb, duck, asparagus, garlic greens...
Everyone at the party was doing paleo for different reasons ranging from weight loss to celiac disease to interest in eating nourishing real foods. There were normal paleos, WAPFrs, raw foodists, and everyone in between. It was interesting to talk about dietary preferences, it really showed me how you can't put this movement in a box.
Blood sausage, raw beef, wild boar leg, spinach, london broil, liver pate...pics from the farm tour!
The party was generously hosted by the Sanocki brothers and I hope everyone had a great time! Here is what else I've been eating:
Seaweed plate at Souen! This is the seaweed salad. I also ate a bunch of oysters and pumpkin. Souen is a great example of how flexible the paleo diet can be....you can even eat it at a macrobiotic primarily vegetarian restaurant! Seaweed is very nutritious and so are oysters. The only caveat here is that they use vegetable oils in their cooking like safflower oil.
I often get brunch at Get Fresh Table and Market. This morning I had this lovely pastured pork belly and beet salad, plus a side of garlic greens and roasted potatoes. Last week I had grass fed steak and eggs!
Erwan Le Corre, John Durant, and Andrew at the farm
So the Eating Paleo in NYC Meetup Group just did its first meatshare! We met bright and early in the morning to go to Glynwood Farm in Cold Spring, NY to pick up a lamb we ordered several months ago, as well as assorted other meaty goodies. Glynwood has been a farm since the 1700s, but these days its mission isn't just farming, since it is also a non-profit dedicated to improving Hudson Valley sustainable agriculture. Going there was a great opportunity to learn more about agriculture and the benefits of quality meat. Our tour was very diverse: WAPFers, paleos, raw meat eaters, and people just interested in grassfed agriculture!
Farmer Ken Kleinpeter gave us an overview of how livestock agriculture works. Most of the breeds he raises, like the White Park Cattle, are heritage breeds that do well in pasture. He explained that putting the average factory farmed cow out to pasture does not make for quality grass fed meat. He also told us about how government regulations make it difficult for him to bring meat to market. For example, it can be hard for them to book a date at the slaughterhouse they use, which is one of the few available that is certified humane. The really exciting thing to hear was that he is part of a regional task force that is developing mobile slaughter units for large livestock, which is huuuuuuuuuuuuge. It will make it much less stressful and expensive to process a large animal like a buffalo. Personally, I think slaughter regulations are ridiculous and it's too bad they have to jump through hoops for such nonsense as the regulation that the USDA inspector has to has their own office (they are going to have an office trailer). Furthermore, why is it OK to process chickens on-farm without an inspector but not cows? Are cows magically safe (haha) because of the USDA, but not chickens? Guess this is getting into rant territory, but you can read more on the unfortunate regulatory situation here.
The reason he can only sell frozen meat is that that it's expensive to keep meat fresh and distribution channels are slower. The animals are all very valuable on a small farm like Glynwood and the staff there takes great care during the slaughter process to provide as much comfort is possible. Ken also talked about how eating local grassfed animals raised on land that cannot grow anything else is the most sustainable way to eat, far more sustainable than a veggie diet utilizing grains grown in industrial monocultures or vegetables grown far away using lots of pesticides and petroleum fertilizers. The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith is a good primer about this.
Ken said he feels comfortable eating his own meat raw and talked about how much higher the risk is eating meat raw from industrial sources because it is not just farm to fork...it is processed, shipped, handled by the grocery store... and meat from many different animals is mixed together, which means that it's hard to trace any problems that do arise. Pastured meat also is higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and other beneficial nutrients. Ken believes Americans should eat less meat and even though I'm part of this diet is is really kind of meat-centric, I agree. I personally feel better eating less meat, but meat that is higher quality: pastured and fatty gives me the energy I need without overloading me on protein, which makes me feel sluggish. I'm of the camp that thinks you should eat the amount of protein that your body actually needs, which really isn't much. Ken told us he often has trouble selling the really fatty cuts, but all of us eagerly snapped up fatback for making lard!
In terms of the actual lamb we got, I realized we next time I needed to plan more lbs per person, but I hope everyone enjoys their cuts. My own personal tip, having done a meat CSA before, is not to be afraid if your cut has a weird name. Last month I got pig cheeks and I wasn't really sure what to do with that, but a quick Google search revealed tons of delicious recipes! So I discovered an interesting and cheap cut AND
There are more meatshares in the future! If you are in NYC, vote for what animals you are interested in.
Occasionally I will hear from someone who does badly on a paleo diet or whose health improved when they gave up meat. It's very interesting to me. I guess I' shouldn't really surprised then by Matt Stone's latest post which is a rant about how paleo kills your sex drive (WTF?????* Lierre's assertion that paleolithic is a diet for a smaller population is about economics, as obviously grains allows us to feed more people) and also a letter from a woman who experienced horrible digestive and other problems on paleo. It's so bizarre because paleo cured the exact same problems for me.
But then again, I've rarely been 100% paleo. I have this fantasy that if I were I would suddenly become super woman or something, but the errant bowl of grits with butter never has made me feel terrible enough to make me stop having cheat meals. I know people who are 100% and honestly they seem no healthier than people who eat butter or an occasional beer.
But I also see a pattern in people who don't do well on paleo. I'm not blaming people...it's hard to do a paradigm shift and admittedly my first foray into low carb wasn't so successful either. I think it started working only when I stopped thinking low-carb and started thinking about food quality. Some Purdue chicken beasts and steamed broccoli isn't quality in my opinion. Grass-fed beef, oysters, seaweed, purple yams, blueberries, kale...these sort of things form a nutrient-dense nucleus for my diet. When I'm really craving grits or bacon lentils, I personally don't sweat it. Gluten, vegetable oil, and sugar free + high nutrient density seems to solve most of my own problems, the rest was just tweaking. So my own experiences can't refute Matt's assertions.
But I just don't buy that low carb is dangerous. Plenty of arctic peoples ate low carb their entire lives and reproduced and didn't keel over and die! I think people should work on removing the worst offenders like sugar from their diet and simply do what works for them.
*In Robb Wolf's podcasts he talks about many women in his gym getting pregnant while doing paleo, but he has also had some questions from people who lost their period...I would be curious to know the nutrition intake numbers of people who that happens to.
Hungary is one of my favorite travel destinations, partially because of the pork. The Hungarian Mangalica breed is a wooly fatty beast that makes one hell of a sausage. Some Americans have imported the breed, but the Hungarians really know how to make a spicy sausage right. Also delicious in Hungary is the incredible goose liver! And duck! Hungary has some delicious meat, and with the Forint pretty low, eating well (and paleo!) is affordable. I suggest Cafe Kor, where I ate absolutely the best silky tender goose liver with sour cherries. Besides that Hungary is a beautiful country with a culture that is fairly exotic to most Americans.
Didn't eat the bread or the onions...eeeewww
I digress, because the reason I was reminded of all this was that one of my favorite Hungarian food blogs just posted about the winter Mangalica festival. Of course there is a comment from someone who admits that while this pork is delicious, they don't want to eat much because "I look at my Hungarian neighbours - don't want to be like them, diabetes and high blood pressure and..." I just saw another comment like this recently- someone was saying how they are vegan because their Polish family suffers from so many health problems because they eat meat.
Hmm, which do you think is the problem: a food we have been eating for millions of years without a problem (meat) or the absurd amount of sugary desserts and alcohol that many Central and Eastern Europeans consume? These were my nemesis as I traveled through these countries. In Hungary most people were drinking shots of a fairly heavy brandy called Palinka alongside their sausages. Next to the sausage stand was a stand selling cakes and doughnuts and another selling FRIED bread doused with cheese. Yeah, it has to be the meat's fault.