Interview with Alan Aragon Paleo Critic

Interview with Alan Aragon Paleo Critic

paleo critic alan aragon

Alan Aragon is a nutrition expert and renowned Paleo critic that writes research reviews on the latest nutrition publications, writes a monthly column in Men’s Health Magazine, and is also a continuing education provider for several organizations, including the Commission on Dietetic Registration, National Academy of Sports Medicine, and the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

Aragon has been openly criticizing the Paleo Diet for over a decade, so I asked him a few questions about his background and opinion of the Paleo Diet and Paleo Movement in general to gain some insight and clarity to his oppositional stance.

1. Alan, tell us a little about your background and what you do.

I’ve spent the majority of my career in nutritional counseling, but as of the past few years, I’ve been progressively more involved in research and conference lectures. My areas of concentration are the integration of training and nutrition for altering body composition or enhancing exercise performance (my latest publication is here).

I have two primary research projects in the works and one secondary research project that should make it past peer review hopefully before the year is over. I’m also working on a book for the lay audience, and at this point, I’m not too sure how much I can divulge about that.

The speaking road will lead me to London and Canada before the year is up, in addition to my regular speaking spots at the Fitness Summit and the NSCA. My formal bio can be seen here.

2. What is AARP?

Are you trying to tell me I’m over the hill? If that’s the case…then I can’t argue with you on that. In all seriousness though, AARR (Alan Aragon’s Research Review) is a monthly review of the scientific literature related to nutrition, training, and supplementation. It’s what I do to stay on top of the current research and help other health/fitness professionals and enthusiasts do the same.

It’s an outlet for me to pour out my nerdy obsessions when you really boil it down. Both the theoretical and practical sides are covered. I also have various guest contributors from all corners of the allied health fields, so it’s pretty diverse in terms of its scope of the content.

3. Many proponents of the Paleo Diet believe that post-Agricultural Revolution foods that weren’t eaten by our prehistoric ancestors should be avoided under that pretense. What is your response to this assertion? 

It’s logically faulty to just assume that pre-agricultural times were optimal in terms of nutritional circumstances, and general health circumstances, for that matter. Some of the most significant technological breakthroughs for improving human health and preventing/treating disease occurred within roughly the last century.

The march of technology can be both good and bad, but let’s not dismiss or ignore the enormous amount of good. But beyond that, many whole foods (both plant & animal) of the present day did not exist in the Paleolithic period; they are products of modern-day farming and food engineering so that virtually kills the objective right there.

The best practical move we can make as modern-day humans is to predominate our diet with whole and minimally refined foods, while judiciously moderating the “naughty” stuff. One thing that really bugged me was seeing potatoes (a whole, nutrient-dense food) on the list of banned foods set forth by pioneering Paleo diet researcher Loren Cordain. Talk about going full-potato!

4. Are there some populations of people that you believe are extremely maladapted to Neolithic diets and therefore should avoid grains and legumes altogether?

I don’t think it’s practical or even accurate to assume population-wide extreme intolerance to grains and legumes. The issue with grains inevitably boils down to some level of gluten intolerance. The most current estimates of celiac disease prevalence fall below 1% of the population.

As far as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) goes, a very recent study led by Daniel DiGiacomo of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University estimated that the national prevalence of NCGS is a smidge over 0.5%, which is about half the prevalence of the celiac disease.

I’ve seen higher gluten sensitivity prevalence estimates in less reliable literature, but the bottom line is that the gluten-tolerant fraction of the population is likely to be well over 90% of us. So, it simply makes no sense to view gluten-containing foods as universally “bad.”

Adding to the illogic of banning foods that are tolerable by the vast majority of the population, the traditional Paleo diet doctrine selectively ignores the fact that ‘Paleo-approved’ foods (i.e., nuts, fish, and shellfish), have a combined prevalence of allergenicity comparable to – and by some estimates even greater  than that of gluten-containing grains. Another amusing fact is that 4 of the 8 “major food allergens” designated by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act are Paleo-approved.

5. Are Paleo Diet adherents missing important health benefits from eschewing grains, legumes, and dairy?

If you include taste enjoyment as an indirect benefit to health, then I’d say yes, that applies to all of those foods. Anyone who can tolerate a given food, and truly enjoys the food, should not force the avoidance of it.

This rigid, all-or-nothing approach to dieting is a recipe for disordered eating in susceptible individuals. Speaking of the foods from a nutritional standpoint, I’d also say yes. Every species of food has its own unique nutrient profile – and I’m not just talking about essential vitamins and minerals.

There are a plethora of phytonutrients (& zoonutrients) in those foods that may act individually or synergistically to promote health and/or inhibit disease. Let’s take oats, for example. There is a substantive body of research pointing to multiple beneficial effects attributed to the beta-glucan content, and other non-essential components of oats.

These benefits range from appetite control (as indicated by increases in peptide Y-Y) to enhanced immune response and improvements in blood lipid profile and glucose control. The list goes on.

As for dairy, I pity the poor soul who can digestively tolerate dairy just fine, truly enjoys it, yet avoids it just because it breaks Paleo rules. I’ll quote research by Rafferty & Heaney on the nutritional profile of milk:

“NHANES 1999–2000 and CSFII 1994–1996 analyses of food sources of calcium, vitamin D, protein, phosphorus, and potassium reveal milk to be the number 1 single food contributor of each of these bone-related nutrients with the exception of protein in all age groups of both sexes…”

Regarding legumes, the aforementioned principles apply. Furthermore, I’ve repeatedly challenged folks to show me research indicating the adverse effects of whole legume consumption (not soy protein isolate by the bucketload) in healthy humans.

Invariably, I hear crickets. In contrast, the scientific literature (in both observational and controlled studies) on the health benefits of legume consumption is substantial. Peanuts are legumes, and peanut butter (especially combined with chocolate) has been known to impart magical powers.

Your mileage may vary on this. An interesting bit of information that folks ignore or overlook is that legumes are common staples of some of the healthiest populations in the world. In fact, Dan Buettner (of Blue Zone research fame) reported that beans, including fava, black, soy, and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets.

Of course, this is observational data with many potential confounding variables. Nonetheless, it warrants caution against the assumption that legumes are the bad guys. I’ve recently made the point that traditional Mediterranean populations have intakes that violate every food restriction rule of the Paleo diet, but they’re busy being too healthy to give a damn.

 6. While it is almost universally recognized that Celiac’s Disease is a gluten-mediated condition, do you suggest that people with Autoimmune Conditions consume grains?

For those who enjoy grains, yes. I am a big believer in respecting your own personal taste preference and letting that override the rules and formalities of any given fad diet. If grains don’t suit your personal taste, then, by all means, don’t eat them.

It’s the idea of banning them universally despite a lack of supporting evidence that I take issue with. For those who DO have the desire to eat grains but have issues with gluten intolerance, the good news is that commercially available gluten-free grains outnumber gluten-containing grains by at least 2 to 1 (complete resource here).

7. If a client of yours presents with IBS, what dietary recommendations do you make to improve GI function?

Well, right off the bat, I wouldn’t do a knee-jerk recommendation to avoid all grains, legumes, and dairy. The British Dietetic Association recently published evidence-based guidelines for the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In summary, lowering the intake of fermentable carbohydrates is recommended. Also, avoiding or minimizing gluten-containing foods may be necessary, but let me reiterate that there’s still a fair range of gluten-free grain foods available to choose from if the person likes grains.

Lactose-containing foods can be problematic, so their minimization or elimination should be considered as well (note that low & no-lactose dairy products are abundant). High consumption of fructose has also been implicated in exacerbating IBS, so this should be moderated as well.

Indiscriminately having an IBS patient “go Paleo” can potentially lead to problems since there are Paleo-approved foods are high in fructose, fructans, and polyols suspected to aggravate IBS. However, I would concede that as a quick-and-dirty shotgun solution to managing IBS, the Paleo diet model is actually quite a good approach.

I would also encourage screening and treatment by a gastroenterologist (or similar qualified medical specialist), since many times the treatments for digestive disorders are beyond the scope of nutritional modulation alone.

8. Is the fear of a skewed off, greater than 1:1 Omega-6, Omega-3 ratio, irrational and unfounded?

Yes, it is unfounded. There’s no objective evidence demonstrating the optimality of a 1:1 ratio of dietary omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. It’s all speculation without a solid research basis. For example, the ratio of omega-6 to omega 3 in coconut oil (a Paleo fetishist favorite) is almost 4000 to 1, yet the weight of the evidence does not indict coconut oil as an agent of adverse effects.

Most commercially available land animals’ fatty acid composition has omega-6 content that’s many times greater than its omega-3 content. So, if we were to strive for a 1:1 ratio in the diet, we’d have to minimize the consumption of beef, chicken, pork, etc. It’s just silly.

In line with this, the higher proportion of omega-6 fats in whole foods of plant origin such as nuts is not a concern. The evidence of omega-3 consumption’s beneficial effect on health indexes is abundant, so I would recommend keeping fatty marine foods in rotation in the weekly menu in order to reap these benefits. For those really worried about it, an omega-3 supplementation is always an option.

9. Is our ‘fear’ of sugar unfounded?

It depends. I’d say in rational, health-conscious, physically active adults, the fear of sugar is indeed unfounded. In children and adolescents (who are mostly clueless about health, lets’ face it), sugar consumption is often unbridled & combined with physical inactivity, so yeah – the concern is there.

The crux of sugar phobia centers around fructose, which is an almost unavoidable component of commercially available sugar-sweetened products. Table sugar itself (sucrose) is half glucose, half fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is ubiquitous in soft drinks and packaged sweets has a slightly but inconsequentially higher proportion of fructose.

Many are familiar with Robert Lustig’s campaign against sugar, and his emphasis on the evils of fructose. What often fails to be addressed is that dose and context make all the difference in the world. The research indicting fructose as an inherent agent of harm uses artificially high doses that are many times greater than typical human intakes.

Much of this research is rodent-based, and rodents’ capacity to convert dietary carbohydrate to fat is roughly ten-fold that of humans. There are several diligent scientific reviews that have been done on this topic, which I would encourage everyone to read since the full text is publicly available. To quote a recent review by Salwa Rizkalla:

“Despite the epidemiological parallel between the marked increase of obesity and fructose consumption, there is no direct evidence linking obesity to the consumption of physiological amounts of fructose in humans (≤ 100g/day). A moderate dose (≤ 50g/day) of added fructose has no deleterious effect on fasting and postprandial triglycerides, glucose control and insulin resistance.”

I would also encourage everyone to read John White’s recent review challenging the fructose hypothesis, whose key points are quoteworthy:

“In considering the volume of contemporary literature on fructose, 1 conclusion stands clear: fructose is safe at typical intake levels but can produce adverse metabolic effects when abused—as is true of most nutrients. It turns out that the largest abusers of fructose are not American consumers, but research scientists. […] It is only when researchers hyperdose human and animal subjects with fructose in amounts that exceed the 95th percentile by 1.5- to 3- and 4- to 5-fold, respectively, that adverse effects are provoked.”

The way I see it, the practical take-away for the general population would be to keep added sugar (as opposed to intrinsic sugar in milk or whole fruit) limited to roughly 10% of total calories.

This will allow for moderation & sane dietary practices while also hedging your bets away from the adverse potential of excess intake. Certain athletes involved in high-volume endurance competition (and other highly physically active folks) can safely exceed this in order to meet the demands of their sport.

10. What are your biggest gripes with the Paleo Movement as a whole? What do you appreciate about the Paleo Movement as a whole?

My biggest gripes with the Paleo Movement is the extreme-ism and absolute-ism that some folks apply to food avoidance despite a lack of supporting research evidence. And even the “Primal” model of going 80% Paleo while leaving 20% for the non-Paleo stuff is rather humorous.

For example, in the context of a typical 2500 kcal diet, 20% of those calories coming from grains & dairy would constitute 500 kcal – which is the capacity for a typical bowl of cereal. So, if a bowl of cereal (or 2 cups of pasta, or 4 slices of bread) every day qualifies as Primal, then it sounds a lot like conventional eating to me.

It’s just difficult to tolerate the lack of logic there. I generally can’t stand the labeling or branding aspect of a diet or the universalization of diet rules. This is because individuals have vastly different preferences, tolerances, and goals for the function of their eating habits.

As for what I appreciate about the Paleo movement, the push toward consuming more whole foods is definitely a positive thing. I appreciate guys like Robb Wolf & Mat Lalonde who are much more flexible and objective in their approach & philosophies than the majority I’ve communicated within the Paleo-sphere. Last but not least, I like CrossFit training attire.

11. Are there any questions that I failed to ask you that you feel merits answering?

Not that I can think of at the moment, this should be plenty to get people thinking. I want to give thanks and credit for being the first Paleo-focused publication to reach outside the box and interview me.

To learn more about Alan Aragon, visit his website here.

Comments

comments

 

289 Responses

  1. Robo says:

    I think the guy is off his rockers, especially to say that there isn’t enough evidence of certain things, maybe he just hasn’t looked at the evidence for what it proves. I’m pretty sure that all these smart people in the Paleo Lifestyle aren’t making all this stuff up. I suspect he doesn’t eat enough bacon, if any at all.

    Of course there are some who are going to be a bit militant about eating foods, you have them in all lifestyles, that point is obviously true. I find it interesting that non-celiacs and those who are not lactose intolerant suddenly have improvements in the way they feel after removal of certain foods. Hmm, isn’t that something? I think this guy lives in a bubble of textbooks and doesn’t see it with his own eyes like some of us do. Thousands and thousands of people (including myself) reporting improvements after removal of the very things he points out that doesn’t have any merit of being a problem? Hmm.

    • Rob says:

      So you’re trying to say Alan Aragon “hasn’t looked at the evidence”… I’m pretty sure he has more experience critically analyzing studies than anyone else that you know does.

      • Robo says:

        Just because he’s got some credentials doesn’t make him correct. He casually dismisses thousands of people who have found problems with the very things he mentions as not being a problem. That’s absurd! Do you seriously think the people who are saying to avoid these certain foods are stupid or do not have credentials themselves? That’s ridiculous.

        • Eric says:

          Alan Aragon is one of the most respected nutritionists in the world. And its not because of his damn credentials, it’s because he reviews research from an un-biased point of view.

          Just because a thousand people believe they feel better after avoiding certain foods, is not good evidence as it is self-reported and doesn’t even have a good scientific basis in the first place. If a thousand people believe in what psychic readings, does that suddenly make psychic readings true?

        • Mie says:

          Alan doesn’t “casually dismiss” anything meaningful. Just because select individuals fare well on paleo doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with e.g. legumes or grain. There’s no logic in connecting these two things.

          • Daniel says:

            The placebo effect is strong in followers of paleo.

          • Karen Pendergrass says:

            Yes, like going from being unable to walk and needing blood transfusions to… walking and not needing blood transfusions. Maybe with “mind over matter” I was able to reverse liver disease, PCOS, RLS, etc. etc. etc. as well.
            Gotta be that placebo effect.

          • Mie says:

            It also seems the reading comprehension is a skill lost in the paleo world.

          • Gabe says:

            (This comment is directed at Karen Pendergrass.)

            Oh, please. Every highly restrictivce nutritional template that strongly deviates from “average joe eating parameters” is inherently predisposed to causing profound health changes in a minority of people – namely those with one of the rare diseases directly triggered by the specidic foods or food components which dieters following the respective template are discouraged from consuming. This is due to simple statistics, and it certainly doesn`t prove or even imply that the dietary template in question provides some sort of “universal salutogenic magic”. Anecdote in point: A friend of mine used to suffer from a host of ailments, most prominently impaired liver function and glucose tolerance, strange rashes, arthritis, persistent fatigue, and bouts of tachycardia. Sounds like a prime candidate for the paleo diet, right? That`s what he thought, too – so he eliminated all of those pesky neolithic foods, started eating lots of meat and saturated fat – and all of his symptoms worsened sharply. The next dietary pattern he experimeted with was a vegan diet – and, lo and behold, his health problems simply vanished. Needless to say, he became a devout acolyte of the vegan lifestyle, rabidly tearing into anyone who dared to voice doubts regarding the role of veganism as the “unified field theory” of nutrition science.
            Turns out, he suffers from hereditary hemochromatosis.

          • Karen Pendergrass says:

            And your point being… what exactly? Daniel suggests that “the placebo effect is strong in followers of paleo” to which I subsequently, and appropriately, refute that it’s unlikely that I am merely experiencing a “placebo effect” so you argue with… non sequiturs and red herrings? And just humor me, will you? Quote me where I was implying that ” the dietary template in question provides some sort of “universal salutogenic magic”. Have fun trying to find it.

          • Gabe says:

            My point is that every dietary template that provides a “salvation narrative” along with its restrictive food consumption rules does indeed rely heavily on the placebo effect for gaining and sustaining momentum, because the people on whom it actually has significant effects (beyond those mediated by unconscious caloric restriction combined with adequate protein intake) are few and far between – with regard to the paleo diet, the studies that have been done so far demonstrate no benefits “above and beyond” those any diet designed with a semblance of sanity (i.e. based on “real, whole, unprocessed/minimally processed food”) routinely delivers for the average participant.
            Still, since the “aptitude” of a diet to “sniff out” people with exceedingly rare directly food(-component)-related ailments is directly proportional to its restrictiveness (again: simple stochastics), there will always be a “hard core” of “fervent acolytes” with “magical” success stories, which keeps the “halo” of the narrative “shiny and sparkling” and, in turn, the majority of followers who do not get to experience “salvation” motivated and primed to interpret every single negligible physical change in accordance with the narrative.
            The latter are the “followers of paleo” Daniel`s comment is obviously directed at, not one of the “few and far between” like you – which is why your personal anecdote either is in itself a “non sequitur and red herring”, because it assumes that he addresses your situation specifically when he clearly doesn`t, or means to claim that the “average paleo dieter`s” experience mimics yours and thus refute Daniel`s point, in which case you are most certainly “implying that the dietary template in question provides some sort of “universal salutogenic magic” “; the latter interpretation is what I went with and meant to respond to in my previous comment.

          • Gabe says:

            The anecdote about my friend was meant to illustrate that conclusions drawn from within a certain nutritional ideology are often revealed to be utterly ridiculous once one “departs from its sphere of influence” and ponders the evidence from a different perspective, and I figured that a vegan “success story” would be particularly illuminating in this context, since paleo dieters love to mock vegans and are highly attuned to detecting logical inconsistencies in vegan claims: Most paleo dieters – including you, as your reaction makes abundantly clear – react to stories like the one about my friend with a mental shrug, dismissing them as “freak occurrences” that have no bearing on what “average Joe” should or shouldn`t eat in the absence of significant and extensive clinical data suggesting /proving otherwise – which I wholeheartedly concur with. The irony here, though, is that one cannot help but notice that your personal “n=1” is completely analogous from a neutral standpoint. The fact that the “paleo tribe” frenetically celebrates each and every one of its “magical” success stories while summarily brushing off those presented by other “castes” nicely epitomizes the intellectual double standard those who devote themselves to a specific nutritional “salvation narrative” without reservation inevitably develop.

      • mark says:

        more than dr perlmutter and dr jaminet, etc etc… he’s a hack

        • Raphael says:

          OK, you have every right to believe a well known neurologist has less knowledge about the subject of brain damage and the effects of grain on your brain, than a media type of critic who is not a doctor or scientist…Again that is your right.

      • Christian says:

        I am amazed at how enraged you all get with this. It’s a bit like the crossfit debate and the barefoot running debate.
        Firstly for all the passionate defendants of Paleo, if it is working well for you that’s great. I may not personally participate in the same food restrictions but needless to say if you truely believe your health has improved with this diet than who am I to suggest you change your ways. Equally, I can’t see how your food choices would influence my life all that much so I really couldn’t care.

        Secondly to all those like Alan Aragon who passionately seek to acquire, appraise and apply the best available evidence not to mention those that dedicate themselves to conducting quality research themselves , thankyou.
        In the same construct as the evidence itself, you guys provide a neutral, factual explanation of our current understanding of health and nutritional concepts.

        I think where some of you make the error is your aggressive condemnation of each other. For those from the paleo camp as I said I am all for you making your own lifestyle choices , I think the issue arises when you incorrectly shun the evidence to suggest all individuals should eat this way. I am all for presenting your diet as an alternative and simply illustrating how it has helped your own life, but don’t do so in opposition to what the high level evidence research shows. If you are going to quote research to support your diet that is fine, just don’t cherry pick lower level evidence whilst disregarding higher quality research.

        For all those who wish to practice a true evidence based lifestyle, don’t allow yourself to get so enraged by those who choose otherwise. Reality is no matter what the evidence says there will always be those who disregard it. Have confidence in the approach you take to your own lifestyle and simply quote the facts, not inspite of others opinions but simply as a reflection of the approach you choose to take.

    • Antf says:

      He “hasn’t looked up the evidence?” Yea, a man who reviews nutrition research for a living totally hasn’t looked at the evidence for a paleo diet.. Right.. Seems legit.

    • Jay says:

      ” I find it interesting that non-celiacs and those who are not lactose intolerant suddenly have improvements in the way they feel after removal of certain foods. Hmm, isn’t that something?”

      The effect of psychosomatic influence alone renders your observation dubious, at best.

      Unless you’re able to qualify “improvement” from a clinical standpoint and have done everything possible to eliminate confounding factors, we have to go by the evidence that Alan cites.

      • Raphael says:

        Jay, the evidence is in the a lot more energy, even moods, triglycerides lowering along with the very small particle LDL’s, thinking more clearly, hormone balancing… these are all things that happened to me with test after test and continue to happen to people that are starting to eat clean on a permanent basis. It would not be spreading so quickly if people were not getting these results. I forgot to mention my blood sugar levels became very steady after being out of whack, before Paleo…Evidence, Evidence, Evidence. BTW, I am a non-celiac and not lactose intolerant as well. My proof has evidence to back me up! Let me put this question out to you… Have you tried a Paleo type of diet for 3-4 weeks, I think I know the answer, the same one Alan gave me…

        • Jay says:

          Raphael, I ate paleo for about 7 or 8 months. My enjoyment of finding good stuff at the farmer’s market with my wife and hanging out in the kitchen with her made it an effortless experience, Cheerios aside (Apple Cheerios, actually — I enjoy a couple bowls in the AM when I refeed, which is essentially ‘carbohydrate loading’).

          • Raphael says:

            So you eat cheerios to carb load, if you workout after, that’s fine, but there is so much evidence that using fats for energy is better and longer lasting. There have been recent stories from high endurance athletes that use that new thinking of fats for energy instead of carb loading. I wonder then how much ratio of fats you were on on those seven months, it is a very large part of the paleo / primal movement… This is no fad, this is health.

          • Jay says:

            Raphael, high/ultra endurance events are low intensity, steady state affairs easily relying on over 90% of energy requirements from the aerobic system. That isn’t to say that some carbs wouldn’t help these guys (answer: they do), but it’s no surprise that a low-carb dieter can complete these sorts of events.

            Here’s the simple acid test:
            Why aren’t all professional athletes ketogenic dieters? Because their livelihood depends on them performing at the best of their ability.

            I’ll leave you with Anthony Colpo. While he’s wordy for some, he’s always thoughtful enough to pepper his articles with references.

            http://anthonycolpo.com/why-low-carb-diets-are-terrible-for-athletes-part-1/
            http://anthonycolpo.com/why-low-carb-diets-are-terrible-for-athletes-part-2/

          • Professional athletes aren’t likely to jump on something that they don’t KNOW works, that’s why there are no pro athletes trying this stuff. That’s why when you look at the best, they are doing high carb diets. It’s because that’s what’s been going on for hundreds of years. They aren’t going to read a low carb book and risk a gold metal with a big dietary change.

            The tennis player who went gluten-free didn’t risk much by dropping gluten, so it was a low risk change. There aren’t any doctors, RDs, or tennis coaches that think gluten is important to have, and there are tons of other carbs that every agrees are equally effective for a high carb diet.

            That no one’s doing it is not evidence that something works. For thousands (or millions) of years, no professional athletes drank Gatorade. That was not evidence that it wouldn’t help.

          • Raphael says:

            Did you know that Aaron Rodgers, QB of the Green Bay Packers and many other athletes including tennis stars and celebrities do this for health. You just said no athletes do this, hmmm…

          • Jay says:

            http://www.thescore.com/nfl/articles/1253402-aaron-rodgers-shares-diet-secrets

            August 15, 2013 Aaron says:

            “It’s really not much—80 percent of the time eating every three hours with carbs and proteins. Smaller portions, less sauces, less sugars, and getting your metabolism up. The other 20 percent? Ice cream, and frozen mochas from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.”

          • or risk a gold MEDAL! 😉

          • Raphael says:

            OK, Aaron maybe cheats more than most, but these great athletes and many more stars are doing it:

            Los Angeles Clippers NBA star Grant Hill became the oldest player in the NBA earlier this year—and then broke hearts when he announced his retirement. This seven-time NBA all-star is a strong proponent of the Paleo Diet. In an interview with Paleo Lifestyle Magazine he said it was what kept him in the league, more than able to hold his own with the other “kids” on court, even while in his early forties.

            Hunter Pence:
            The Giants took to Twitter with the news that “.@hunterpence’s decision to eat like a ‘caveman’ has him in the best shape of his career – [VIDEO]atmlb.com/Y9QEB9 #GCast San Francisco.” The video shows the hunky Hunter in a grocery store shopping for veggies and talking about the positive change eating Paleo has brought to his career. He also hints that while at first his teammates were skeptical, he’s slowly bringing them over to his side of the cave. “Everyone freaks out when you have like a plate of kale…[but] Buster [Posey] got in a big habit of eating a piece, and he’s gettin’ pretty good, so he’s kept doing it. – See more at: http://www.yourdailyscoop.com/8-celebs-who-follow-the-paleo-diet/7/#sthash.Hd9VzeBW.dpuf

            In his most recent role as fugitive-on-the-run in Mud, Matthew McConaughey’s character is hungry to the point where he will gladly devour almost anything in sight, including room temperature beans and pumpkin pie filling straight from the can. In real life, he eats Paleo 90% of the time, but he admits to cheating every now and then to indulge in favorites with his kids. Sigh. There’s nothing more attractive than a man who’ll make sacrifices for his kids—am i right, ladies?!

            See more at: http://www.yourdailyscoop.com/8-celebs-who-follow-the-paleo-diet/7/#sthash.Hd9VzeBW.dpuf

          • Jay says:

            Raphael, when I said, “Why aren’t *all* professional athletes ketogenic dieters?”, this does not exclude the possibility of a few athletes self-reported dietary intake that we might read about in “Your Daily Scoop — Advice and Entertainment for Women”.
            We want high-quality, peer reviewed science. It’s that simple. Check out the references in the second half of the Anthony Colpo article I provided to get the gist…
            Anyway, let’s ignore that you’ve moved the goal posts from athletes and carbohydrate restriction to the far more general “paleo diet” which can in various interpretations accommodate plenty of carbs (yes, please recall that you’ve gone on about “eating enough fats”, and the sins of carbohydrate induced “insulin spikes”, and that’s what I was addressing, specifically.)
            The day coaches across the planet start railing on their teams to eat paleo because the phytates in the grains and legumes they eat are at serious risk of ruining their chances during finals will never come.

            Seriously, man — your ability to willfully ignore the forest for the trees is simply astounding. I’ve had equally productive discussions with creationists about evolution.
            I’ve read and responded to your references. Feel free to read mine any day now… And please, try and be intellectually honest about it: remember not to start with your premise and then only cherry pick supporting evidence.

          • Raphael says:

            Jay, I really don’t know what your saying about athletes, et al… My general overall point is that this movement is growing stronger every year, I am sure that there will be mistakes along the way and newer discoveries, but so many are preventing or healing from serious ailments and getting healthier because they go grain free for the most part while eating clean produce, protein and fats. It is that simple and all the pretend reporters out there can make their dime on being negative about it without trying it themselves all they want, go ahead. Not a fad, not even close. Please don’t try and tell me that the renowned Neurologist is wrong too, ‘Grain Brain’ is no laughing matter. I know it is an emotional thing that could potentially put stress on people, but when you truly get that elephant off your back, you will not look at bread, desserts and food the same way, you only eat when you are actually hungry, it is an amazing feeling to not need a sugar rush at 3:30 or other stimulants. That is what happens to everyone who gives it a real college try. It is great that she interviewed him to expose him of his real agenda, truly smart on her part. I understand how his ego took over his mind to actually do the interview, just wanted more attention (i get it).

    • James Moffat says:

      “I suspect he doesn’t eat enough bacon”

      there’s some solid critical thinking right there. Fist bump bro.

      • This is a great interview and it shares a lot of the sentiment that I do with the Paleo diet. I think it’s a great reference point but he’s absolutely right about the small percentages of those truly having dietary issues because of Celiac disease.

        Unless you really do have an issue with GI or inflammation there’s really no need to be so anal. Just because cavemen didn’t eat a certain type of food doesn’t mean it’s bad for you.

        Kudos to the people that have lost dozens and dozens of pounds or feel better because they went on to a Paleo diet. Of course when you eliminate junk from your diet and excess carbohydrates you’re going to feel better and drop weight.

        Yes, legumes do carry certain anti-nutrients but it’s a shame to exclude them out of a diet completely unless you really are bothered by them. Same goes for oats and certain types of grains.

        The problem I have with the Paleo-police is that they miss out on rule number one of nutrition therapy and that is that: no one diet is perfect for everyone. Yet, they treat the Paleo diet as the cure to all diseases.

        That being said, I think the Paleo diet can be a great thing but some people seem to be overdoing it. The perfect example is bacon. Some people use Paleo as the perfect excuse to gorge on meat and bacon. And more bacon – with a side of bacon. I’ll stick to some oatmeal and fresh berries with some cottage cheese for breakfast as opposed to what I’ve seen some people shoving down their throats at breakfast pushing the Paleo mantra.

        Keep it whole/real – eliminate the processed stuff and cut out excess carbs. You’ll be fine (generally speaking).

      • Robo says:

        Humor at it’s best, bro. 😉 I’m totally amused by this guy’s perspectives. Take this one for example “Well, right off the bat, I wouldn’t do a knee-jerk recommendation to avoid all grains, legumes, and dairy.”

        If we want critical thinking, at least try to give some merit to what thousands of people have learned themselves.

        Seriously – I don’t think this guy eats bacon. More than likely he eats like a rabbit. 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      Well if you’re “pretty sure” then I guess that is all the evidence we need.

    • Tom Shand says:

      I’m not sure if Robo is having a laugh and trying to wind us up, but i’ll assume he’s not.

      So Robo is saying that Alan ignores the thousands of people who have felt better from cutting gluten. I say the opposite. Alan is saying that about 0.5% of the population may benefit. If the population is 6 billion, that is 30,000,000 people. If just 1% of that population has tried cutting gluten and felt the benefits, that is 300,000 people. Which is probably the figure that Robo had in mind when he said “thousands and thousands”.

      So Robo, you and Alan seem to be on the same wavelength. You should feel honoured.

    • Joe says:

      Anecdotal evidence works for you, but what Alan is arguing, is that it is not sufficient to apply to everyone. If restricting grains, dairy (better include Whey protein, as it is highly processed) and legumes from your diet works for you, and you aren’t stressed by the cravings or the social pressure of passing up a couple slices of pizza with friends because it isn’t your cheat day yet, then fine. Just know that if you are stressed by these cravings, that alone is not worth whatever nutritional benefit you think you are gaining by these absolute restrictions. Stress is a huge inhibitor in the progress of your health. Try practicing a little more dietary freedom and moderation while still eating plenty of Paleo style meals, and see how that works for you. I guarantee your stress will go down and you won’t be fighting cravings as much.

    • Chris says:

      Probably billions believe in god doesnt make god real. Here science is being discussed not feelings.

  2. Jimmy Rustle says:

    I wonder how many Pro-Paleo rustled comments this post will get? Lol

  3. Debbie says:

    How do I love Alan? Let me count the ways…
    super answers AA
    xo deb

  4. TL says:

    Oh boy … how many paleo panties will be all in a bunch. I stumbled on this comment from Dr. Kurt Harris the other day. I thought it summed things up pretty accurately.

    Kurt G. Harris MD • a year ago −

    Josh said:
    “i am currently confused as to what value there is in a paleo/ancestral approach to nutrition and health.”

    “I am not sure there is any now. There might have been, but just from the total inability to coalesce around core recommendations, and the radical variability in approaches we see under the label, anyone could be forgiven for thinking paleo is a lot of ideologically-driven a priori narrative-based dietary faddism.

    OK, everyone agrees that a preference for real food is smart and that we could ditch wheat and sugar without ill effects if we want, but otherwise there is no “core curriculum” as it were.

    We still have factions claiming with a straight face that Milk is a cause of multiple sclerosis (!!) and other factions recognizing that pastured milk products might be some of the healthiest traditional (definitely not paleo) real foods you can eat.

    And we have factions that cling to the shunning of legumes on a basically theoretical (if weak) basis which as far as I can tell has zero support in epidemiology and little other evidence to support it. In fact, it seems to be an artifact preserved from the original conceit of Eaton and Cordain that anything “we could not have eaten easily” when we were not even who we are now, cannot be good for us. This is a conceit that has never made an iota of sense for me. other than perhaps as a starting point for suspicion.

    Then we have serious but well meaning confusion over what to do about the preponderance of n6 in the modern diet. Swamp it out with high dose fish oil while continuing to eat nuts (which cannot reasonably be thought by any anthropologist to be more “paleo” than legumes or wild grains) high in n-6? Turns out that might be worse than doing nothing.

    Finally we have the fatal virus that has infected paleo from the beginning but now looks more like an ineradicable retrovirus rather than a 24 hour flu. Low Carb hucksterism and offshoots of it like Krusism. The atkins fad diet -which works so well to reduce craving and food reward effects, has evolved into a full fledged dietary cult that has now, with aid of it’s profiteers selling books and xylitol based treats not found in nature, glommed on to “paleo” like Ursus Maritimus hugging a newborn penguin.

    Result – there are now people who actually believe that BANANAS can only be eaten seasonally.

    The paleo label actually is kind of finished. It does not represent any scientifically respectable approach and has such few reliable core elements as to be a heuristically useless concept. It has nothing to add to reading Michael Pollan or and just adding some red meat, or Weston Price sans sourdough bread.

    Just try being a total newbie, googling paleo diet and coming up with something really scientifically defensible beyond eating real food – you might not even get that, with all the paleo bars and supplements about.

    PS My comments are about the state of “paleo” as a meme. It is of course useful to use an ancestral approach to nutrition in some ways. The problem is, in order to instruct someone in it, I would have to specify how to do it and WHO is doing it correctly and not just making up stories, etc. And then, I would be roundly criticized for trying to constrain the libertarian wonderland that is paleo on the internet, where every idea is a beautiful snowflake that deserves a fair hearing and is somehow “contributing to the conversation” – as if dialogue about diet were a useful good for it’s own sake.

    I would be considered a “hater” who is not interested in “helping people” by being so negative as to point out which of the beautiful paleo flowers are really just weeds.”

  5. RLB says:

    Great Q&A, Great job at debunking Paleo memes. A paleo diet isn’t even possible of course because most paleo food no longer exists in it’s original form. Whole food nutrition closely replicating paleo nutrition is all we can ask for. A little disappointed that Alan contradicted himself several times however…he doesn’t like the absolutism of paleo nutrition but then goes on to criticize those who use the 80/20 rule. Those kind of statements reaffirms his arrogance. He definitely should become a full time scientist:-)

    • CK581 says:

      How is criticizing two different points contradictory?

      He stated that both the extremist side AND the 80/20 side have faults, really, that’s not contradicting in any sense? Neither of those statements negates the other…

  6. Mike says:

    The butt-hurt is strong with these ones.. Stick fingers in ears… sing “lalalala”… relax and stay paleo-ing. Great, GREAT job, Alan. Well thought-out.

  7. Dan says:

    Gut Bacteria Liberate Hidden Toxins Found In Grains Toxicology: The masked toxins currently slip past food safety monitoring. Crops such as wheat, corn, and peanuts sometimes harbor chemicals from molds that grow on the plants. Some of these compounds are seemingly harmless derivatives of toxins produced by the fungi. For the first time, researchers have shown that human gut bacteria can break down these compounds and release the toxins, which can cause gastrointestinal and neurological damage cen.acs.org/articles/91/web/2013/02/Gut-Bacteria-Liberate-Hidden-Toxins.html

    • Dan says:

      Gut microbiota, immune development and function: Pharmaceutical treatment has, thus far, failed to inhibit the tsunami of endemic diseases spreading around the world, and no new tools are in sight. Dramatic alterations, in direction of a paleolithic-like lifestyle and food habits, seem to be the only alternatives with the potential to control the present escalating crisis. The present review focuses on human studies, especially those of clinical relevance. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22989504

      • Alan Aragon says:

        Here are 2 of the practical recommendations of what people can do to improve their health, listed at the conclusion of the paper you linked by Bengmark (one recommendation slams the Primal darlings butter & bacon, & the other calls for the consumption of grains & legumes, hahaha):

        3. Minimizing their intake of dairy products especially butter, cheese and milk powder, rich in saturated fats, hormones and growth factors such as IGF1, and to reduce meat intake, especially inflammation-inducing processed and cured meat such as bacon and sausages, this far though only fat demonstrated to being detrimental to microbiota.

        8. Seeking out and consuming ancient anti-oxidant-rich, high fiber, low-calorie containing grains such as buckwheat, amaranth, chia, lupin, millet, quinoa, sorghum, taro, teff, etc., and also increasing the intake of beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and almonds – all extraordinary rich in nutrients and minerals – all prepared for eating by low-temperature cooking – all most likely of importance for maintenance of a rich microbiota.

  8. Patti Feliciano says:

    There is no “majority” of healthy people. The athletes are just a small minority of the population. Even the healthy, fit non athletes are a minority of the population. The majority of the population is at the least overweight, or on meds, and suffering from a list of ailments, be it low energy, headaches, body pain, digestive troubles, insomnia – and these are just the minor complaints. Alan’s message is aimed at such a small subset of the population and is not applicable for the “majority”. Why pursue dietary advice for such a teeny portion of the population when you could get real about how sick “the majority” is and focus on dietary advice that helps heal the masses? Why focus on what percentage of people are technically Celiacs (tiny%) when the percentage of people developing T2 diabetes in this country is astronomical? If you want to help the most people, you need to focus on dietary advice that helps SICK people. Healthy people tend to have had this figured out already.

    • Alex says:

      Because the advice for UNHEALTHY people is incredibly simple. They don’t need to avoid grains, or dairy, or xenoestrogens, or whatever the heck else.. they just need to eat less and move more. Period, full stop. It’s not their allergies keeping them overweight and unhealthy, it’s not “toxins”, it’s none of these things. It’s general lack of movement and breathtakingly bad food choices.

  9. Verow75 says:

    Paleo = eating real food (soda is not real food Mr. Aragon!) I laughed so hard when Robb owned him, and then used his little brain for a sweep! What is so bad about eating real food? That is the base of a Paleo lifestyle. It’s not hard, it’s doable, and it’s healthy for you!

    Corn, certain beans, grains, hurt me. Why do I need to listen to someone who is not feeling my symptoms? Why should I listen to someone that considers himself a nutritionist, but has no problem in promoting soda consumption? And yes, he did!

    • Kyle says:

      Where exactly did Robb Wolf “own” Alan? Feel free to provide some proof of this. Thanks!

      • Verow75 says:

        It was on a facebook thread. It was unbelievable and amusing!

      • Alan Aragon says:

        There was no fight; no debate that anybody “won.” Anyone with both sides of their brain intact could see that it ended with Robb agreeing with me (or at least acquiescing to a certain degree and not offering further dissent). But more than that, it was only a few posts exchanged on a private Facebook group. No “ownage” was had in any way. This anonymous guy is obviously biased in his zealous opinion, and it makes perfect sense that he won’t post the exchange. I’m banned from the group for asking one of the admins to support his stance with scientific evidence, so I can’t go retrieve the exchange between Robb & I.

        • C'est Moi says:

          Not why you were banned, and you know it, sonny.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            I have screencapped the exchange that got me banned. People were up in arms over it, including several regulars of the group. If I was not banned for hurting Joe’s ego by challenging Joe’s reasoning (i.e., his appeal to his profession as an attorney & his failre to provide any scientific evidence), then I was banned for not having a gentle/cuddly tone with him. Not a good reason to ban, sonny.

          • C'est Moi says:

            Alan, there are probably 20 or so (perhaps more) people in that group who share your anti-paleo sentiments, who often challenge the admins of the group (and members) to back up claims. They are still there.

            To say that it was simply a ban because you asked him “to support his stance with scientific evidence” is a gross oversimplification of what actually occurred.

            As for the real reason you were banned, perhaps it was a poor reason… But it wasn’t over asking for evidence. That would make one think that the group itself is full of dogmatic members who aren’t interested in other viewpoints or “dissent” against Paleo, and that’s certainly not true.

            I see a typo, sonny.

          • Joe says:

            Funny how you didn’t specify the exact reason for the ban or challenge his screenshot evidence, but resorted to pointing out his “typo”. Nice ad hominem there.

          • C'est Moi says:

            If I didn’t ban him, how can I specify the *exact* reason he was banned? From what I understand, unless I am getting my evidence firsthand—or I was the person banning him–anything I say is mere speculation… isn’t that frowned upon here?

            And while I do think its sweet that Alans followers come to his defense for even the tiniest “attack,” I’m pretty sure he’s OK on his own, and would likely have better discerned the difference of me simply being an ass and making an ad hominem attack.

            It’s cute, though. I’ll give you that.

          • Joe says:

            Lol i’m not coming to his aid, here. I’m just pointing out the fallacy in your comments. And you don’t exactly have to be the moderator to know why he was banned, if it was really such a bad reason, as you claim. If you witnessed the comments by Alan before the ban, why don’t you enlighten us as to what was so ban worthy about them?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Alan Aragon is one of nutritions greats, fantastic read, paleo is I believe a ludicrous concept. Times changed, people evolved, with it so did food and the way it is produced and type of food eaten. Embrace it.

  11. Shae says:

    I really really have to disagree with Alan’s take on fructose, being a diabetes researcher and work with some of the best in the field. It’s known to cause steatosis via processing in the liver, the stuff really isn’t good in high amounts (I’m not saying small amounts a day, like a couple helpings of fruit, are bad at all)…

  12. Mike says:

    Verow – please direct us to AA “promoting” soda consumption… or was it “not scaremongering with hyperbole into avoiding soda”… therein lies the problem with nutrition extremists. Next straw man argument…

  13. Anonymous says:

    So many Jimmie’s rustled

  14. I’m from Spain, and have eaten all my life a traditional Mediterranean diet, including wheat, some dairy, etc. However, the statement that Alan makes: “I’ve recently made the point that traditional Mediterranean populations have intakes that violate every food restriction rule of the Paleo diet, but they’re busy being too healthy to give a damn”… I believe is not true since cancer, diabetes, obesity, and a number of other health issues are on the rise in Spain and other Mediterranean countries. I would love to see statistics backing all of his comments and affirmations.

    • opps.. meant to add that now I’m Paleo/Primal for about 2 years.

      • Alan Aragon says:

        Right, because at the peak of the health of the Mediterranean populations, they were excluding grains, legumes, and dairy? Doubt it. Also, I used the word “traditional” for a reason. But more importantly, give this a read:

        “The Mediterranean dietary pattern, generally recognised, as a healthy diet is still the model for southern Mediterranean population; however, following the rapid process of urbanisation, southern Mediterranean populations have changed their lifestyle and food habits and tend to shift from traditional food habit. Indeed, intake trends illustrate the fall in whole-grain intake with a rise in animal sources and vegetable oils. Dietary energy has been steadily increasing by approximately 1000 kcal per capita per day between 1965 and 2000, exceeding per caput energy requirements.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17378952

        • Alan,

          When and what was the peak of health of the Mediterranean population? How far back are we talking about? I’m trying to understand this and don’t quite get it.

          My grandmother lived through three wars: WWI, the Spanish Civil War, and WWII. These were harsh times in most of Europe and food was often very scarce. She lived to be 90, but had diabetes type 2 (was thin as a rail btw) and that’s what killed her in the end. She ate a traditional Mediterranean diet all her life. Her sister died at 84 from heart disease. My great uncle died from cancer at 89… my mother has a number of cousins who had breast cancer.. I can continue.

          Was there a time that cancer, diabetes, heart disease didn’t exist? No, not really, right? although the numbers were a lot less maybe…..

          As for the fall in whole-grain intake and rise in animal sources… In Spain, most people still consume bread at almost every meal. The primary source of animal protein in most of Spain and Portugal is still fish/seafood and pork (beef is consumed much less). We still eat a varied diet, usually dictated by the seasons. And yet, these diseases are on the rise.

          As for the rise of consumption of vegetable oils (which the Paleo/Primal community are against), I agree that this could be a factor in the rise of bad health in Mediterranean countries, although olive oil is still primarily used. (To be fair we would have to get real statistics and numbers.)

          The big factor I believe is the culprit for a worsening health situation in Mediterranean countries is the quality of the products being consumed. The wheat around the world is no longer what it was due to many GMO transformations. Same goes for many other food items.

          And there’s an influx of products that contain chemicals, sugar and a load of other things that are not healthy for us, basically processed foods. But even the “healthy” yoghourt contains sugar and other unhealthy and unnecessary components.

          And that is why I just don’t understand how anyone can be against a movement (both Paleo and Primal) that is promoting eating unprocessed, organically-grown, traditionally-fed animals, healthy fats, exercising regularly, reducing stress (a huge factor in health issues), sleeping better, getting proper sun exposure, and overall living better?? And to top it off, this same movement/lifestyle is helping so many people gain/regain optimal health….

          Please explain that to me.

          • Jay says:

            I don’t want to distract from Alan’s response, but…

            I’m encouraged to hear your grandmother lived so long under such adverse conditions. I’ve a non-blood uncle who is a marathon running, skinny type II diabetic. He used to be quite well built, but is now becoming worrisomely lean without trying.

            “The wheat around the world is no longer what it was due to many GMO transformations. Same goes for many other food items.”

            There is no commercially produced GMO wheat. That isn’t to say that a small minority of folks have issues with wheat produced by “conventional” breeding methods — but there’s going to be a small subset of the population that has a problem with just about any food item. That’s how it goes.

            As for other GMO food items — when we’re talking about insertion of a couple of genes at best, and these food items (the proteins the GMO express, specifically) are tested for allergenicity, what exactly is your concern from a health perspective?

            (disclosure: posted as ‘a paleo critic’ earlier … kind of confused how my openID is supposed to work here… derp.)

          • Alan Aragon says:

            First off, It’s not productive to resort to sharing personal anecdotes & testimonies in a discussion about objective scientific evidence. Secondly, did you even read the link I provided? Traditional Mediterranean dietary patterns did not exclude grains and legumes, and have substantive ecological and experimental data supporting their benefits to human health. Paleo diet proponents are against grains and legumes. Can you see the conflict?

          • Alan,
            First of all, I think I am dealing with this discussion with respect and expect the same from you and others. I do not appreciate sarcasm (the word “even” denotes sarcasm to me, just to clarify). Yes, I read the link, but I cannot access the full text. And you have not addressed the questions about to what time and when the Mediterranean diet was an example of perfect health. You have provided no statistics, which are based on scientific evidence. And yes, I agree anecdotal evidence is weaker evidence in the eyes of science, but it is still something. Just like this same anecdotal evidence is what we can confirm as proof for so many Paleo/Primal bloggers and people who follow these diets have lost weight, or added weight (depending on what their issues were), and have regained health. Why fight against something that is working for so many people and on top of that promotes a healthy lifestyle without a “diet” (no one is starving him/herself), eliminating processed foods, sugar (to name the two most important), encourages healthy exercise, sleep and sun exposure habits and tries to reduce/eliminate stress? I agree we should challenge it, of course. There could be points (such as the white potato) that can be rectified.
            And maybe the stance on legumes will be changed in the future… I personally eat them every once in a while, as hummus or lentil soup. I also eat rice, which is a grain, every once in a while.

            I think what we need to look at also is the level of consumption. As I said “anecdotally”, in Spain, bread is consumed at almost every meal, either in the form of bread or bread sticks. Yet, legumes are not consumed on a daily basis, and are prepared properly, which is very important to eliminate some of the anti nutrients they present…. all these factors must be taken into consideration. It’s not a black and white world. Also, there are other components to living in the Mediterranean region, which can be affecting positively the health of the people. So, we cannot only focus on or isolate nutrition. And as I cannot access more than the abstract of the link you provided, I do not know if other issues are covered in the study.
            I think debunking Paleo/Primal based on these arguments is not enough, at least for me.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            Saffron girl — Do you even lift? Just kidding. Once again, I don’t think that sharing personal testimonials & anecdotes is productive in the spirit of a scientific discussion. If you enjoy your diet, great. Keep at it. But those who blanketly preach *against* grain & legume consumption regardless of individual preference & tolerance deserve to be challenged on the basis of scientific evidence.

          • Alan, I’m stopping now. You have not addressed my questions, but rather attacked me regarding anecdotal evidence. A true scientist doesn’t do that. This discussion for me becomes therefore invalid. Thanks.

          • Joe says:

            The ages of 84, 89, and 90 are evidence of very people who lived very long, healthy lives. There are a lot of complications that go along with simply being that old. Just because someone didn’t pass away in their sleep, doesn’t mean they weren’t healthy. And again, the reason anecdotal evidence is not seen as legitimate by scientists, is because it cannot apply to the entire human population, and does not consider other factors in that person’s own experience. Water is a “chemical”, so watch your wording there. The only way to avoid “processed” food is to eat 100 percent raw food all the time. And “natural” is not synonymous with safe. “chemical” is not synonymous with poison. So you cannot use those as legit arguments.

            If the Paleo model is working for you, then by all means continue. But if you are stressed by cravings, then I’m telling you now, it isn’t worth it. Stress is not just a mental state. It has to do with hormones that affect your health and your progress. If passing up foods with friends because you are “paleo” is stressing you out, then it isn’t worth what little nutritional benefit you may be gaining from these restrictions. Also, look up the TED talk that debunks Paleo on Youtube. It is done by an anthropologist who points out that the fossils of early humans actually appear to have consumed grains based on particles on their teeth. It’s really interesting. Check it out and maybe learn something new.

    • Jay says:

      Visit pubmed. You’ll find a significant amount of observational evidence to back his claim regarding the likely healthy properties of the Mediterranean diet compared to the average Western diet.

      Also, just for fun:

      http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/world-rankings-total-deaths

      Check out the column on the right. Spain is near the top of the list in life expectancy.

      • Jay, I stand corrected about the GMO wheat. None is being grown commercially in the world according to the quick search I’ve done on the Internet. Having said that, I don’t want to consume any GMO at all. The whole premise of eating healthy under Paleo/Primal is eating natural.. GMO is not natural. There is enough evidence that GMO can cause cancer, etc. So, why even go there? There are also plenty of articles and studies who we don’t need them to feed the world, etc, etc…. the only ones standing to gain from GMO are the companies who produce them.

        • Jay says:

          Saffron Girl, it’s great to eat whole foods, which is what I think you at least in part mean by “eating natural” — to me, this keeps us in touch with our food and dietary intake, and perhaps even helps us to take the time to appreciate life more in general. Time spent in the kitchen and with family and friends is a good thing.

          But I think you mean something more than that when you say “eating natural”… and unless I’m mistaken, I think you mean to suggest that all of the food crops that humans have been breeding into highly productive super-variants of their ancestral strains are “natural”. All of this breeding, especially within the past century, takes place using all sorts of “unnatural” methods, with no GMO involved. Mutation breeding alone (ie using radiation and/or chemical mutagens) is responsible for a wide variety of modern food crops. These methods introduce change in the genome that is massive and totally unpredictable in comparison to genetic engineering — yet we happily eat these foods and call them “paleo”. Seems dubious to me.

          I’m not familiar with any GMO cancer studies which either suffer from poor design our have been roundly debunked as fraud (see criticism of Séralini’s GMO study to know what I mean).

          I respectfully decline to address the matter of feeding the world; it’s a tangential issue here and we’ve probably got enough to discuss as it is.

          PS- I’ve been wanting to make paella ever since I read your user name.

          • Jay says:

            correction:

            “I’m not familiar with any GMO cancer studies which either suffer from poor design”

            Which either don’t* suffer…

            (apologies, this window to type reply in is very tiny — not easy to proofread).

  15. Kate says:

    Great interview with Alan. As a HIGH CARB paleo eater, I appreciate hearing different views since I am often (unfortunately) still eviscerated for favoring a higher carbohydrate diet that is lower in fat than many paleo bloggers promote.

    I eat a lot of potatoes and I’m 100% paleo. Can’t beat that!

  16. Alan, you did great. I’m so proud of you. Our little boy is growing up…

    The only beef I have is with your statements in the omega 3 and 6 issue. Paleos (and ‘clean eaters,’ too) don’t want to eat foods that are balanced in 3s and 6s, but foods that are low in omega-6s. It’s the diet as a WHOLE that they desire to be more balanced, not each food.*

    It doesn’t matter if coconut is a bazzilion to one in the 6:3 department if the the bazzilion is just only a drop in the proverbial bucket.

    There ARE paleos concerned about too much pork, but not because of the ratio, but because it has ‘a lot’ of 6s. Again, are too much 6s an issue? Maybe not, but it’s not the pork’s ratio that’s the issue, it’s the sheer amount of 6s.

    I will admit that there are paleos who don’t ‘get it,’ and try to rely on grass-fed beef and omega-3 eggs for the 3s, which is unfortunate. Neither is a good source of 3s, but the 6s are low enough (in amounts, not the ratios), that the other benefits* are still decent.

    * I know it’s debatable that the ratio is causing issues or that a healthy ratio is 1:1, and I won’t argue those points. I’m just addressing the method to the madness.

    ** benefits of grass-fed beef and pastured eggs are mostly to the environment of the planet and to the welfare of the animal, and not to OUR nutrition, but that’s for another interview.

    • Alan Aragon says:

      Well, the question was about the ration, not sheer amounts. And that’s exactly what I addressed. The concern about sheer amounts is dubious, especially if we’re talking about omega-6 from whole food sources. For example, walnuts’ fatty composition is nearly 60% omega-6, and their ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 4:1. Double whammy of bad? Hardly, according to the evidence of their beneficial health effects.

      • Alan Aragon says:

        *ratio, not “ration”

        • Yes, but the question was about the ratio in the diet, not the ratio in each food.

          Assuming that a dietary ratio of 3:6 is even important, it wouldn’t matter if we at a high 6 ratio food if the rest of the diet was low in 6s and higher in 3s.

          Smart Balance spread is a ‘normal person’ example of this idea. They produce a food that they say is balanced, but ONE food doesn’t matter.

          Again, we’re not arguing IF a dietary ratio, overall, matters, I’m not convinced it does, and certainly the desire to get to 1:1 is virtually impossible, anyway.

          BTW, most paleo people just try to limit 6s and get enough 3s to bring the ratio closer to what they presume to be natural/historical/ancestral, not to hit a target.

          Another BTW, and assuming the big IF again. I agree that whole food sources (walnuts, pork, fish, etc.) are going to be different from isolated sources (oils, especially in unnaturally large amounts) and won’t have the same negative impact (assuming there’s a negative to a grossly out of whack ratio, of course.)

          • * “ate,” not “at.”

            it wouldn’t matter if we ate a high 6 ratio food.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            The problem with trying to separate the ratio in each food from the ratio of the diet as a whole, is that the whole is only the sum of its parts. Did you get the actual point I made in that section? I think you did, Roland. your a pretty sharp tack, IMO 🙂

          • Mie says:

            There’s nothing to suggest that extra virgin quality oils, such as olive oil, have a negative impact whatsoever. Unless you try to drink them like water, which is something that no one really does.

            Therefore the whole “isolated vs whole” is in this case just plain meaningless.

          • I got the point, but you’re barking up the wrong tree by looking at the ratio of the foods, themselves.

            Yes, the ratio of soybean oil is really high, but it doesn’t matter. It matters that there are a lot of 6s. If it was 1:1 it would still be bad in the overall diet because there’s still a lot of 6s. In the paleo mind, we need less n-6, overall and don’t want to take in large EXTRA amounts (because 6s are in virtually everthing and we already have more than we need).

            You are absolutely correct about the ratios being out of whack and the paleos ignoring it, because the ratio of each food is not the issue, the amount of each fat is.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            Roland, I only barked up the tree that was asked of me in the question. I addressed it specifically; you seem to be starting a completely different discussion.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            Mie — Olive oil’s total fatty acid composition is not predominantly n-6 PUFA, so your point is lost. I was addressing n-6-dominant refined vegetable oils versus n-6-dominant whole foods.

          • I’m not trying to be a dick, but the question was “8. Is the fear of a skewed off, greater than 1:1 Omega-6, Omega-3 ratio, irrational and unfounded?” Which says nothing about the ratios of foods. If someone has that concern, then you are certainly correct!

            I asked about this because I see people use the ratios in coconut oil and nuts to mock paleos, but there are far easier and more accurate ways to do that. People need to understand that most paleos don’t (or shouldn’t) look at a food in isolation, and if they do, they are doing it wrong.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            I’m completely losing you here, Roland. How can a question specifically about ratios not be about ratios? And I disagree about Paleos not looking at foods in isolation – otherwise they wouldn’t be issuing food bans despite the evidence (& despite individual tolerance).

          • As to looking at foods in isolation, I said ‘then they are doing it wrong.’

            Of course ratio is just a word, but ratio of what IN what is the question?

            Paleos, in general, want their diet to be at a better ratio of 3:6, not the ratio of each food. Where do they say each food needs to be a good ratio?

            If that were the case, then fish/fish oil would be too HIGH in 3s. Overall, foods contribute to a greater ratio, and their individual ratio doesn’t matter; the amount of each that they contribute to the larger ratio does.

            Fish oil’s ratio is ‘good’ AND the amounts of 6s are small, so this could be considered good. Although, in large amounts, you could have too much fish oil and cause problems.

            Soybean oil’s ratio is ‘bad’ AND the amounts of 6s are large, so soybean oil would be considered bad. Even then, in very small amounts, the overall contribution to the greater ratio is small, so shouldn’t be concerning.

            Is the confusion because certain paleos eschew certain foods with bad ratios? I’ve heard the pork and chicken ones before, but it’s not really because of the ratio of 3:6, but because of the sheer amount of 6 contained in the tasty things. If they call out the ratio, then they are the ones barking up the wrong tree.

            I have heard the grass fed beef one, but that’s just wishful thinking. There’s not enough 3s in grass fed beef to make it compare to fish or fish oil, and the grass feeding doesn’t reduce 6s much at all, but people want to believe.

          • The argument about ratios OR amounts of 3s in plant based foods is silly, anyway. If one is concerned about overall 3:6 ratios (in the overall diet), look at the amount of 6s in a food, but get your 3s from fish.

          • Mie says:

            Alan,

            “Olive oil’s total fatty acid composition is not predominantly n-6 PUFA, so your point is lost. I was addressing n-6-dominant refined vegetable oils versus n-6-dominant whole foods.”

            Alan, I’m well aware that olive oil is predominantly MUFA. However, the same ol’ “bad-ratio” thing often gets mentioned when talking about it – since it’s a vegetable oil. That’s what I was trying to address, though perhaps I didn’t formulate my point well enough.
            Anyway, there is no convincing evidence against any other type of extra virgin quality vegetable oils, either.

            The issue that low carbers/paleo people have with n-6 -dominant oils holds merit ONLY if we’re talking about very, very high intake. And even then, just like I pointed out, there’s no solid evidence of e.g. CVD harm/risk.

            Referring to our discussion below concerning the health benefits of n-6 fatty acids, see e.g.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19171857

            Within reasonable intake they seem to have independent benefits.

          • David Sciola says:

            Alan, I have huge respect for your work and will be subscribing to AARP.

            Bona fide nutrition research reviews are hard to find as the industry is built on foundations of bullshit.

            “Paleo” (a loose term at best) is no exception. Unfortunately when people get amazing results logic goes out the window and a diet/lifestyle can become a religion – just as CrossFit can become a cult.

            I joined the CrossFit fray but managed to escape! However, I’m still heavily entrenched in the Paleo scene after 3 years of excellent results… but don’t write me off just yet!

            I am on your side. We need more sense and scientific backing for our many tenuous claims. A lot of the “Paleo” research is sketchy at best or non-existent at worst. But that’s beside the point here.

            The only reason why I would ever chime in on a comments section like this (which adheres to the 95% bullshit rule of nutrition/fitness) is to jump in to back up Roland.

            He seems like a very well-informed, well-intentioned dude and he totally nailed on the head my single biggest gripe I had with your otherwise completely legitimate critique of Paleo in this article.

            Your use of coconut oil as an argument against the Paleo rationale to lower overall n-3:n-6 ratio is a really poor example.

            Coconut oil consists of barely any PUFAs. It’s almost 90% saturated fat, with less than 2% n-6.

            Hence, the 4000:1 ratio you cited is completely irrelevant. You would have to eat kilograms of the stuff on a daily basis to bump up your overall n-3:n-6 ratio.

            Your rebuttal to Roland is that the question was regarding n-3:n-6 ratio and took that as meaning the ratio in specific foods??? Herein lies my issue.

            Your failure to understand the question suggests that perhaps you have let your bias against “Paleo” (and the 95% bullshit surrounding Paleo) skew your otherwise rational and scientific approach towards nutrition.

            Of course the question was about overall n-3:n-6 ratio! Anyone with any credibility in the Paleo-sphere would understand that it’s the absolute quantity of n-6 in the diet, not the relative ratios of specific foods, that influences the overall n-3:n-6 ratio. You should understand that too.

            We all know anecdotes and personal “N=1” experiments are worthless to scientific debate but allow me to preach to you…

            Why don’t you take a plunge and try “Paleo” for 30-60 days and see how you look, feel and perform, as Robb Wolf would say.

            That is, of course, if it isn’t too late and your mind is set…

            Solid research should always be the basis for nutrition advice but sometimes you have to take a leap of faith, at least until the research comes through.

            Much of what Paleo people push these days may turn out to be bullshit, (I limit my intake of bacon, just in case!) but I’m pretty sure there is also a lot of merit in focusing on nutrient-dense whole foods.

            Just try it… I’ll even let you eat potatoes and dairy!

            PS – You mentioned your respect for Mat Lalond (PhD of Organic Chemistry from Harvard). Well he states that the role of lectins in legumes is largely erroneous and overstated in the Paleo community. However, he maintains that PEANUT lectins are the only ones that we should worry about, as they seem to be highly problematic. Want to reconsider you position on peanut butter as a wonder food? Here’s what Mat said: http://chriskresser.com/rhr-what-science-really-says-about-the-paleo-diet-with-mat-lalonde

          • Alan Aragon says:

            David, to quote you: “Your use of coconut oil as an argument against the Paleo rationale to lower overall n-3:n-6 ratio is a really poor example.” — I’m gonna assume that was a mistake on your part & that you meant to reverse the order of fatty acid types, or that you meant to say “increase” instead of lower. I completely understand what Roland is getting at in terms of total amounts, but what you (and Roland) have to understand is that I answered the question in the exact way it was asked, and the issue explicit in the question was proportion (ratio) of the fatty acids, not total amounts. This is as plain and simple as I can make it, so I hope this gets through. I’ll reiterate, the ratio of n-3:n-6 in the diet is constituted by the ratio of n-3:n-6 of the individual foods comprising the diet. this includes foods with high net amounts of n-6 as well as food with low net amounts of n-6. Why exclude the latter? Total amounts of these FAs is a completely different discussion, as is the food source of these FAs. I’m afraid I’m running out of different ways to repeat this same answer.

    • David Sciola says:

      Thanks for taking the time to reply, Alan. You’re doing a good job at taking a lot of heat from a Paleo forum.

      You are correct, I meant to say “increase” n-3:n-6 ratio, or could have made it a lot easier for myself by sticking to talking about “decreasing” n-6:n-3 rather than increasing n-3:n-6. Anyway you understood me which is the main thing.

      I hear what you’re saying – that overall n-6:n-3 ratio in the diet is the sum of it’s constituent parts but you’re making it sound as if you could just average out the n-6:n-3 ratio of all food items eaten in the diet to get a magic number. Ratios don’t work like this though. Absolute amounts count.

      The 4000:1 ratio for coconut oil cannot in any significant way bump up the overall n-6:n-1 ratio of the diet (WHICH THE QUESTION WAS ADDRESSING) because the absolute number of both n-6 and n-3 in coconut oil are insignificant therefore the ratio in coconut oil is completely irrelevant. This is what makes it a poor example.

      The ratio of specific foods does not equate to the overall ratio. It is absolute values of n-6 and n-3 that one would use to calculate the overall ratio in the diet.

      A far better example would be the heavy use of almond flour in many “Paleo” baked goods (which I don’t think are particularly healthy). Or the high n-6 content of dark meat poultry (which you alluded to). Now these foods will indeed contribute to a higher n:6-n:3 ratio because of their high absolute values of n-6.

      I get your point that the effect of total amounts of FA in the diet are not well understood, or that you can’t treat the PUFAs in whole foods the same way as you would from refined oils, but the question was about the overall n:6-n:3 ratio in the diet and in this case absolute numbers are the way to calcite this – not by averaging the sum of a diet’s constituent parts.

      Would you please demonstrate a little humility and admit that coconut oil is a bad example and that absolute amounts of n-6 and n-3 in the diet are what constitute the overall n-6:n-3 ratio, not the ratios of specific foods.

      Thanks and keep up the good work. Your research reports are excellent.

      • Alan Aragon says:

        David, isn’t it rather obvious that the food with higher net amounts of n-6 are going to be the more potent drivers of the ratio of the diet overall? When asked that question in the interview, I immediately thought of clients and consumers who at one point would make food choices based on lists of foods ranked by ratio of n-3:n-6. I suppose you haven’t seen these lists. There have been MANY discussions online pointing to coconut oil’s “bad” ratio of n-3:n-6. This false mode of thinking is what I was addressing – and this is exactly how I interpreted the question. If the question was asked differently, I would have answered it differently, using different examples.

        • Raphael says:

          Coconut oil.
          So Doctor Mercola is wrong, I just want this on the record
          :
          The Best Food Sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats

          The best way to improve your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is to eat the following types of high-quality foods:

          Unprocessed organic oils such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil, and organic butter—or better yet, raw butter from grass-pastured cows. Raw milk is also a good source of highly bioavailable omegas.
          Raw nuts andseeds, such as fresh organic flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and English walnuts, which are also high in omega-3s (ALA).
          Meat from animals that are free ranging and/or grass fed, which are higher in beneficial omega-6s, such as natural CLA. If you have access to them, game meats such as venison are very high in beneficial fats. The article “Better Beef,” written by California rancher Dave Evans, gives a great in-depth view of the many benefits of grass-fed beef.
          Egg yolks from pastured hens are rich in beneficial omega-3s.
          Coconut oil, although not an omega-3 or omega-6 fat, is also an extremely beneficial dietary fat with an “embarrassment of riches” for your heart, metabolism, immune system, skin and thyroid. Coconut oil’s health benefits derive from its special MCFAs (medium-chain fatty acids).

      • Alan Aragon says:

        PS, David — good point on the almond suggestion, it would definitely be a good example to use when addressing the net contributions of n-6 of various foods in the Paleo diet context. In the future I’ll be sure to be more complete in my response to questions like this one, so less misunderstandings will occur.

        • David Sciola says:

          Great. So we both agree that looking at the n-6:n-3 ratio of specific foods is useless because it is the net amount of n-6 and n-3 in the diet that determines the overall ratio?

          I thought you were suggesting that our fetish for coconut oil was at odds with our fetish for reducing the n-6:n-3 ratio. It clearly isn’t. So I’m glad you clarified that.

          Of course there will always be a lot of ill-informed people who jump on certain aspects of a diet without properly understanding it.

          I think that people making “Paleo” cheesecake with 3 cups of cashew nuts is absolutely ludicrous.

          I would like to see some more research on the effect of the n-6:n-3 ratio before I stop eating whole chickens – which contain a whopping dose of n-6 that my Paleo peers clearly choose to ignore.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            That’s correct, David. I was responding to the concept of judging individual foods based on their n-3:n-6 ratio, and my stance is that this is an invalid approach. I am fully aware of how the net amounts of n-3 & n-6 determine their ratio in the diet. I thought this was obvious, so much so that I just assumed my assertions would be clear when I listed individual food examples. The way the question was put leaves room for variable interpretation. I *immediately* thought of how some folks judge individual foods as superior or inferior choices based on lists that rank them according to n-3:n-6 ratio.

  17. Laurie says:

    Mr. Aragon fails in the very first point. “It’s logically faulty to just assume that pre-agricultural times were optimal in terms of nutritional circumstances”. Um, no, it’s faulty to assume that pre-agricultural diets were anything other than optimal, especially when Anthropologists and other direct observers confirm the lack of “diseases of civilization” among hunter/gatherers. A diet supplied by nature is completely optimal, or we wouldn’t be here. Thousands, and perhaps millions, of years of survival on a diet that was anything less than “optimal”? Nope, Nada. Completely illogical. Does that mean a modern Paleo lifestyle is a complete match of our Paleolithic ancestors? Of course not, that’s not the point at all. However, the lifestyle that i lead resolved a long, long list of very serious illnesses and at 40 I feel the best that i have ever felt in my entire life. Not optimal? Whatever.

    • Alex says:

      I find this interesting, as Pendergrass mentions below that he agrees. Now, as I am not an anthropologist, but I have spoken with MANY on this very topic (consider me a bored academic) who disagree wholeheartedly. Malnutrition and disease is EXTREMELY common in nearly every species on earth- I fail to see how ancient humans could be an exception. This does appear to be a complete disconnect between their words (which, I fully disclose, I cannot cite verbatim nor can claim to be an expert on) and what you state here. Does either side have anything to bolster their side (Paleolithic diets being optimal or non-optimal) other than hearsay?

    • Anonymous says:

      “Um, no, it’s faulty to assume that pre-agricultural diets were anything other than optimal, especially when Anthropologists and other direct observers confirm the lack of “diseases of civilization” among hunter/gatherers. A diet supplied by nature is completely optimal, or we wouldn’t be here.”

      All that’s necessary is for our progenitors to have survived to around the age of reproductive fertility for us to “be here”, so that hardly automatically equates to dietary optimality — a diet only need be good enough to ensure reproductive success.

      And if the lack of evidence of “diseases of civilization” in people that faced short, brutish lives is truly compelling to you, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    • martin says:

      Your’e an idiot.

  18. Dear Alan and Karen and Commenters,
    First, I absolutely applaud both Karen and Alan for an exciting interview. I especially applaud Karen for interviewing a critic of the Paleolithic Diet. It is exactly how an interview should be done and moreover, is exactly how science arrives at the truth. Failure to allow, much less invite, criticism is indeed a sure way to marginalize any viewpoint. Criticism in an open atmosphere serves to hone arguments and solidify the truth. Congratulations on doing this well.
    I also especially applaud Alan for the frankness of his viewpoint and allowing us to examine his assertions in a so-called “lion’s den” (pun intended). Your criticism makes the Paleo Community examine its core tenets and that, in my mind, is exemplary and needed. Believe me when I tell you that you are actually helping the Paleo Community.
    Commenters, as always, what you have to say is welcome and important. Be sure to critically review the content rather than the individual. There’s no real need for anything less than civility. And it looks like most of the comments have been that, so kudos to you.
    With this in mind, I’d like to refute some of the comments made by Alan. Read on!

    3. Many proponents of the Paleo Diet believe that post-Agricultural Revolution foods that weren’t eaten by our prehistoric ancestors should be avoided under that pretense. What is your response to this assertion?
    It’s logically faulty to just assume that pre-agricultural times were optimal in terms of nutritional circumstances, and general health circumstances, for that matter.
    [David Pendergrass] I have to challenge this assumptive statement at the get-go. Considerable paleontological evidence exists to support that hunter-gatherers were stronger and healthier. Direct comparisons between such groups in the same ecological niche have been made demonstrating such things as a lack of osteoporosis and stronger teeth and longer lives in the former group over the latter.
    Before you even say it, dear reader, please don’t even think to say that hunter-gathers didn’t live as long as moderns. It’s simply not true and is based upon the nearly 50% mortality rates of infants in pre-modern times.
    Moreover, I disagree with the notion that this is logically faulty. It is improbable that Homo sapiens would have survived without being optimally healthy. In animal species, unhealthy animals would have been and still are quickly removed and, according to natural selection, would be unable to contribute to the gene pool. Consider a sick bird. Unable to fly well, it was prey to virtually all other animals. Similarly, unhealthy humans would simply not have survived, they would have been killed.
    Some of the most significant technological breakthroughs for improving human health and preventing/treating disease occurred within roughly the last century. The march of technology can be both good and bad, but let’s not dismiss or ignore the enormous amount of good.
    [David Pendergrass] Agreed! However, the best development was through antibiotic use to ameliorate bacterial infections, the major cause of adult deaths prior to the last century. The extensive use of modern day therapeutics has merely extended life by only a few years beyond the use of antibiotics. And at enormous end-of-life costs I might add.
    But beyond that, many whole foods (both plant & animal) of the present day did not exist in the Paleolithic period; they are products of modern-day farming and food engineering, so that virtually kills the objective right there. The best practical move we can make as modern-day humans is to predominate our diet with whole and minimally refined foods, while judiciously moderating the “naughty” stuff. One thing that really bugged me was seeing potatoes (a whole, nutrient-dense food) on the list of banned foods set forth by pioneering Paleo diet researcher Loren Cordain. Talk about going full-potato!
    [David Pendergrass] Agreed that today’s foods don’t resemble pre-agricultural fare. These foods you allude to have been artificially bred for certain biological products or increased speed to table. That is, they have been bred to maximize their purchase by consumers. This includes artificial breeding of fruits for example, which have been specifically bred for sweetness, which contrary to a point you make later does indeed increase their intake because of reward pathway activation in dopaminergic pathways in ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens and caudate nucleus. This causes abnormal food intake of carbohydrates.
    Protein sources are brought to the table quicker and cheaper because the corn that is used to raise them and makes them fatter and quicker to slaughter. Extensive use of antibiotics to deal with such sickened animals is overused exacerbating the resistance by bacteria to antibiotic use. Pesticide and herbicides are so overused that they are altering the ability of corn to absorb micronutrients from the soil.
    The potato notwithstanding, its expression in the wild would most certainly have been eaten by our ancestors, but it would only have been expressed a few days. All the other animals, arthropods, birds, fungi and bacteria would have decimated the small crop of potatoes very quickly indeed. The reality is that we would not have eaten very much of it as a result.

    4. Are there some populations of people that you believe are extremely maladapted to Neolithic diets and therefore should avoid grains and legumes altogether?
    I don’t think it’s practical or even accurate to assume population-wide extreme intolerance to grains and legumes. The issue with grains inevitably boils down to some level of gluten intolerance. The most current estimates of celiac disease prevalence fall below 1% of the population. As far as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) goes, a very recent study led by Daniel DiGiacomo of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University estimated that the national prevalence of NCGS is a smidge over 0.5%, which is about half the prevalence of celiac disease. I’ve seen higher gluten sensitivity prevalence estimates in less reliable literature, but the bottom line is that the gluten-tolerant faction of the population is likely to be well over 90% of us. So, it simply makes no sense to view gluten-containing foods as universally “bad.” Adding to the illogic of banning foods that are tolerable by the vast majority of the population, the traditional Paleo diet doctrine selectively ignores the fact that ‘Paleo-approved’ foods (i.e., nuts, fish, and shellfish), have a combined prevalence of allergenicity comparable to – and by some estimates even greater than that of gluten-containing grains. Another amusing fact is that 4 of the 8 “major food allergens” designated by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act are Paleo-approved.
    [David Pendergrass] As an advocate of Paleolithic Nutrition, I have to agree that many of the approved foods are indeed allergens. And they are indeed more allergenic than the gluten. However, the mechanism of why such foods become allergenic is not clearly elucidated. My current hypothesis is that there are multifactorial reasons for allergies to fish, nuts and shellfish. Within that hypothesis is that one of the factors is concomitant use of prolamin-rich compounds (which includes the gliadin family in wheat). Prolamins are also found in oats, rye, sorghum, corn, barley, rice) and activate inflammatory responses that cause inappropriate absorption of other foods due to the inflammation of gut epithelial cells, the so-called leaky gut hypothesis. Complicating the picture is the use of pesticides and herbicides that can have effects not only on human and animal cellular physiology, but also may have effects on microflora that exist in gut. Current hunter-gathers societies do not have such allergies.
    5. Are Paleo Diet adherents missing important health benefits from eschewing grains, legumes, and dairy?
    If you include taste enjoyment as an indirect benefit to health, then I’d say yes, that applies to all of those foods.
    [David Pendergrass] Actually, because the foods are in fact bred for taste enjoyment and therefore activate reward pathways to cause overeating, I would say that taste enjoyment is a direct benefactor to poor health. You stated earlier that we should eat whole or minimally processed foods (which I absolutely agree with!). The foods that are currently in the center of the grocery store are anything but and are indiscriminately used for taste enjoyment to the exclusion of nutrient dense foods. Just ask any 13 year old what they want from the grocery store.
    Anyone who can tolerate a given food, and truly enjoys the food, should not force the avoidance of it. This rigid, all-or-nothing approach to dieting is a recipe for disordered eating in susceptible individuals. Speaking of the foods from a nutritional standpoint, I’d also say yes. Every species of food has its own unique nutrient profile – and I’m not just talking about essential vitamins and minerals. There are a plethora of phytonutrients (& zoonutrients) in those foods that may act individually or synergistically to promote health and/or inhibit disease. Let’s take oats, for example. There is a substantive body of research pointing to multiple beneficial effects attributed to the beta-glucan content, and other non-essential components of oats. These benefits range from appetite control (as indicated by increases in peptide Y-Y) to enhanced immune response, and improvements in blood lipid profile and glucose control. The list goes on. As for dairy, I pity the poor soul who can digestively tolerate dairy just fine, truly enjoys it, yet avoids it just because it breaks Paleo rules. I’ll quote research by Rafferty & Heaney on the nutritional profile of milk:
    “NHANES 1999–2000 and CSFII 1994–1996 analyses of food sources of calcium, vitamin D, protein, phosphorus, and potassium reveal milk to be the number 1 single food contributor of each of these bone-related nutrients with the exception of protein in all age groups of both sexes…”
    [David Pendergrass] All true above to the best of my knowledge. Nonetheless, the sugar content of milk rivals that of a Snicker’s bar. The 50% galactose in the milk is completely converted to glucose via a urilydated-diphosphate conjugation and isomerase reaction. Add the manner in which the milk is produced commercially, though, the picture doesn’t seem quite as bright as that. The italicized section above is certainly true enough as drinking milk is certainly recommended by the USDA and the ADAs. Of course it would be the single food contributor of the above nutrients! However, the lactose causes a whopping insulin spike which is likely to lead to glucose dysregulation. Certainly other foods can better take care of these nutrients without the extra sugar.
    Regarding legumes, the aforementioned principles apply. Furthermore, I’ve repeatedly challenged folks to show me research indicating the adverse effects of whole legume consumption (not soy protein isolate by the bucketload) in healthy humans. Invariably, I hear crickets. In contrast, the scientific literature (in both observational and controlled studies) on the health benefits of legume consumption is substantial. Peanuts are legumes, and peanut butter (especially combined with chocolate) has been known to impart magical powers. Your mileage may vary on this. An interesting bit of information that folks ignore or overlook is that legumes are common staples of some of the healthiest populations in the world. In fact, Dan Buettner (of Blue Zone research fame) reported that beans, including fava, black, soy, and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Of course, this is observational data with many potential confounding variables. Nonetheless, it warrants caution against the assumption that legumes are the bad guys. I’ve recently made the point that traditional Mediterranean populations have intakes that violate every food restriction rule of the Paleo diet, but they’re busy being too healthy to give a damn.
    [David Pendergrass] In the above section you eschew the allergens of nuts, fish and shellfish, but fail to mention that the peanut dwarfs them all for its allergic properties. This is because peanuts specifically activate immunological consequences directly. This is due to proteins that bind sugars called lectins. Indeed, the peanut lectin acts precisely like the adjuvants used to increase vaccine production. Lectins activate gut flora. All legumes contain such lectin properties. Moreover, lectins are found in grains. Ricin, a lectin obtain from castor oil plants is used to kill people. Lectins interfere with gut epithelial cells and likely contribute to absorption issues. They are associated with leptin resistance which in turn is associated with obesity.
    Lectins are the plants’ method of preventing you from eating their seeds. It is true that heating them above 100C will reduce, but not eliminate, leptin toxicity.
    Another compound, phytates, chelate ions and reduce their absorption, this includes Ca++, Zn++,
    6. While it is almost universally recognized that Celiac’s Disease is a gluten-mediated condition, do you suggest that people with Autoimmune Conditions consume grains?
    For those who enjoy grains, yes. I am a big believer in respecting you own personal taste preference, and letting that override the rules and formalities of any given fad diet. If grains don’t suit your personal taste, then by all means don’t eat them. It’s the idea of banning them universally despite a lack of supporting evidence that I take issue with. For those who DO have the desire to eat grains but have issues with gluten intolerance, the good news is that commercially available gluten-free grains outnumber gluten-containing grains by at least 2 to 1 (complete resource here).
    [David Pendergrass] The assumption here is that gluten-free means that literally all the gluten has been removed. It truly doesn’t take much gluten to cause problems and there is clearly a lack of oversite in regulation such foods. As with any autoimmunity, any presentation of antigen can be catastrophic to
    I appreciate that you value personal taste preferences.
    7. If a client of yours presents with IBS, what dietary recommendations do you make to improve GI function?
    Well, right off the bat, I wouldn’t do a knee-jerk recommendation to avoid all grains, legumes, and dairy. The British Dietetic Association recently published evidence-based guidelines for the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In summary, lowering the intake of fermentable carbohydrates is recommended. Also, avoiding or minimizing gluten-containing foods may be necessary, but let me reiterate that there’s still a fair range of gluten-free grain foods available to choose from if the person likes grains. Lactose-containing foods can be problematic, so their minimization or elimination should be considered as well (note that low & no-lactose dairy products are abundant). A high consumption of fructose has also been implicated in exacerbating IBS, so this should be moderated as well. Indiscriminately having an IBS patient “go Paleo” can potentially lead to problems since there are Paleo-approved foods are high in fructose, fructans, and polyols suspected to aggravate IBS. However, I would concede that as a quick-and-dirty shotgun solution to managing IBS, the Paleo diet model is actually quite a good approach. I would also encourage screening and treatment by a gastroenterologist (or similar qualified medical specialist), since many times the treatments for digestive disorders are beyond the scope of nutritional modulation alone.
    [David Pendergrass] IBS as a disease is one of the most troubling for physicians. There is no protocol that seems to work consistently and is often misdiagnosed as there are hundreds of diseases that can mimic. Indeed, IBS is diagnosed almost as an afterthought. The Mayo Clinic suggests dietary and lifestyle changes to treat.
    Again, I forward a multifactorial relationship between lactose/fructose/prolamins, all of which are generally avoided in a Paleolithic nutritional diet. While I note your concern about fruits (and the subsequent fructose) making the list, I generally suggest that low intake of fruits is ideal. Again, the current food practices come into play here. Since the fruit of today has a significantly higher fructose content than in preagricultural times, then it stands to reason that Paleolithic nutrition would suggest a lower intake of fruits.
    8. Is the fear of a skewed off, greater than 1:1 Omega-6, Omega-3 ratio, irrational and unfounded?
    Yes, it is unfounded. There’s no objective evidence demonstrating the optimality of a 1:1 ratio of dietary omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. It’s all speculation without a solid research basis. For example, the ratio of omega-6 to omega 3 in coconut oil (a Paleo fetishist favorite) is almost 4000 to 1, yet the weight of the evidence does not indict coconut oil as an agent of adverse effects. Most commercially available land animals’ fatty acid composition has omega-6 content that’s many times greater than its omega-3 content. So, if we were to strive for a 1:1 ratio in the diet, we’d have to minimize the consumption of beef, chicken, pork, etc. It’s just silly. In line with this, the higher proportion of omega-6 fats in whole foods of plant origin such as nuts is not a concern. The evidence of omega-3 consumption’s beneficial effect on health indexes is abundant, so I would recommend keeping fatty marine foods in rotation in the weekly menu in order to reap these benefits. For those really worried about it, omega-3 supplementation is always an option.
    n-3 omega fatty acids are well known to inhibit NK-B intracellular activation of cytokine release by peripheral blood mononucleocytes . n-6 activate TRPV1 positive feedback cascades in nociceptors (pain detectors) that along with the grains you propose, first result in hyperglycemia then increases TRPV1 sensitivity that activates further cytokine release, that activates TRPV1 once again. Meanwhile, the hyperinsulinemia that occurs under these conditions ALSO activates TRPV1 to exacerbate this positive feedback cycle. The cycle crashes with these neurons releasing calcitonin-gene related peptide (CGRP), that has an autoreceptor on these very same nociceptors, causes further increases in CGRP. Unfortunately, high levels of CGRP will eventually cause downregulation of insulin release and therefore insulin resistance. Glucose metabolism is thus affected adversely. This likely leads to obesity and type II diabetes. Removal of both the n-6 FAs AND the glucose (from table sugar, HFCS, and all the grains) reduces the substrates for this positive feedback pathway to help restore proper glucose homeostasis.
    n-6 FAs lead to arachadonic acid, which is the precursor to a whole host of inflammatory mediators. Equilibrium dynamics alone result in a higher expression especially under the condition I just described above. Arachadonic acid derivatives are exquisite activators of the TRPV1 receptor.
    To be fair, n3s ALSO activate this receptor. So rather than excessive fish oil supplements, just eat the salmon…
    9. Is our ‘fear’ of sugar unfounded?
    It depends. I’d say in rational, health-conscious, physically active adults, the fear of sugar is indeed unfounded. In children and adolescents (who are mostly clueless about health, lets’ face it), sugar consumption is often unbridled & combined with physical inactivity, so yeah – the concern is there. The crux of sugarphobia centers around fructose, which is an almost unavoidable component of commercially available sugar-sweetened products. Table sugar itself (sucrose) is half glucose, half fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is ubiquitous in soft drinks and packaged sweets has a slightly but inconsequentially higher proportion of fructose. Many are familiar with Robert Lustig’s campaign against sugar, and his emphasis on the evils of fructose. What often fails to be addressed is that dose and context make all the difference in the world. The research indicting fructose as an inherent agent of harm uses artificially high doses that are many times greater than typical human intakes. Much of this research is rodent-based, and rodents’ capacity to convert dietary carbohydrate to fat is roughly ten-fold that of humans. There are several diligent scientific reviews that have been done on this topic, which I would encourage everyone to read, since the full text is publicly available. To quote a recent review by Salwa Rizkalla:
    “Despite the epidemiological parallel between the marked increase of obesity and fructose consumption, there is no direct evidence linking obesity to the consumption of physiological amounts of fructose in humans (≤ 100g/day). A moderate dose (≤ 50g/day) of added fructose has no deleterious effect on fasting and postprandial triglycerides, glucose control and insulin resistance.”
    I would also encourage everyone to read John White’s recent review challenging the fructose hypothesis, whose key points are quoteworthy:
    “In considering the volume of contemporary literature on fructose, 1 conclusion stands clear: fructose is safe at typical intake levels but can produce adverse metabolic effects when abused—as is true of most nutrients. It turns out that the largest abusers of fructose are not American consumers, but research scientists. […] It is only when researchers hyperdose human and animal subjects with fructose in amounts that exceed the 95th percentile by 1.5- to 3- and 4- to 5-fold, respectively, that adverse effects are provoked.”
    The way I see it, the practical take-away for the general population would be to keep added sugar (as opposed to intrinsic sugar in milk or whole fruit) limited to roughly 10% of total calories. This will allow for moderation & sane dietary practices while also hedging your bets away from the adverse potential of excess intake. Certain athletes involved in high-volume endurance competition (and other highly physically active folks) can safely exceed this in order to meet the demands of their sport.
    [David Pendergrass] Define “typical” fructose levels and I believe that you’ll find a whole host of arguments. And it will most certainly depend on who you ask. Nonetheless, your argument fails to take into account the hyperpalatability factor of fructose, glucose, starch and lactose in reward pathways, I described earlier. The evidence that such rewards can cause overeating is as clear as it can be.
    Interestingly, even you advocate reducing added sugar to 10%. I might even agree that for incompletely compliant Paleolithic nutrition adherent that it might even work. How is this different from the 80/20 that you described earlier?
    There are certainly common areas of agreement, particularly on minimizing processed foods. On that I couldn’t agree more. I also agree that palatable foods are wonderful, but disagree that hyperpalatable foods are a good thing in contrast.
    Since I need to get to sleep, I’ll conclude that I appreciate the opportunity to reply. I have a lot more to say on each of these and this only constitutes a portion. I certainly understand that was also true for both Alan and Karen. I hope that all of you will continue reading and trying to understand.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful, civil response, David. You missed the point of my criticism of “Primal” – which was a criticism of mis-labeling, rather than the criticism of the 80/20 concept. Read the passage again and pay attention to the language. Another thing I feel you failed to do was meet my challenge of providing research showing whole legume consumption causing harm in healthy humans (in vivo design, please). Another thing I’d like to see you provide is evidence that n-6 dominant whole foods (like nuts) have adverse effects in non-allergic humans, in vivo. I never condoned the chugging of refined n-6-rich vegetable oils. Another thing I’d like to see is the controlled human data, showing the adverse effects of a diet with 10% of total energy from added sugar. and yes, my peanut comment was tongue-in-in cheek. But you missed the main point, which was that since a minority of the general population is allergic to [X] foods, does this warrant a universal ban on consuming them, regardless of the presence or absence of allergy? Of course not. Please realize that the burden of proof is on you to provide the evidence for these claims.

    • Alan Aragon says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful, civil response, David. You missed the point of my criticism of “Primal” – which was a criticism of mis-labeling, rather than the criticism of the 80/20 concept. Read the passage again and pay attention to the language. Another thing I feel you failed to do was meet my challenge of providing research showing whole legume consumption causing harm in healthy humans (in vivo design, please). Another thing I’d like to see you provide is evidence that n-6 dominant whole foods (like nuts) have adverse effects in non-allergic humans, in vivo. I never condoned the chugging of refined n-6-rich vegetable oils. Another thing I’d like to see is the controlled human data, showing the adverse effects of a diet with 10% of total energy from added sugar. and yes, my peanut comment was tongue-in-in cheek. But you missed the main point, which was that since a minority of the general population is allergic to [X] foods, does this warrant a universal ban on consuming them, regardless of the presence or absence of allergy? Of course not. Please realize that the burden of proof is on you to provide the evidence for these claims.

  19. Lisa says:

    Try being Celiac and still consuming grains because you “enjoy” them. Yeah, I like donuts, too, but “taste enjoyment” isn’t worth shitting my pants. Call it a fad all you want, but until you really understand gluten intolerance at this level, you have NO IDEA what you are talking about.

    • Matthew Green says:

      Haha! What a way to misread, misinterpret and misunderstand everything you just read!

      Next time you shit your pants, blame Alan. Shitting yourself is so non-Paleo.

    • Alan Aragon says:

      Please quote exactly where I either denied the existence of celiac disease, or where I suggested that celiacs or gluten-intolerant people eat gluten-containing foods despite their intolerance. I suggest you actually read my stuff before getting mad at it.

  20. Geoff Morris says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong Alan, but you mentioned the o6:o3 ratio of coconut oil as 4000:1 which as far as I can tell is only because the amount of o3 is vanishingly small against the (still very small) amount of o6.

    I would assume that you are well aware of this fact-that omega 3 and 6 form a tiny component of coconut oil. So why quote this figure? It seems pretty meaningless in the context in which you quote it.

    I am neither paleo nor anti paleo but merely looking for answers.

    • Alan Aragon says:

      The point I was making was in response to the need for a particular proportion, rather than a particular amount. At which point does it become meaningless? That is subjective and aside from the point. If you got the point I was making then great – as you can see, coconut oil was not the only example I gave.

      • Geoff Morris says:

        Granted, but surely the proportion would come from the diet overall and not one particular foodstuff. Therefore to use coconut oil as an example was pointless.

        I got the point. My only problem was the quote of 4000:1 which looks sensationalist and doesn’t merit mentioning in a serious discussion.

        You did give other examples, true. Though as I understand it, and again correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t those animals mentioned have a substantially different o6:o3 ratio depending on how they are fed?

        • Alan Aragon says:

          Obviously the proportion would come from the diet overall, but its the constituent parts that make the whole. And yes, ratios in animal fat can vary depending on feeding composition. but Once again, the point is that if a person gets a significant amount of his dietary fat from whole food sources higher in omega-6 (thus shifting the ratio higher than 1:1), then he’s not inherently compromising health.

          • Mie says:

            Nor is this person compromising his health if he gets a significant amount of dietary fat from oils with n-3/n-6 ratios deemed less than optimal by some (e.g. soy oil 1:7, olive oil 1:20). See, for example, Ramsden et al.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21118617

            Even at intake levels several times higher than in general population at the moment, the findings of possible detrimental effects lacked statistical significance.

            Of course, since going extra-high on n-6 provides no benefits either, it’s not to be recommended. It’s just that the n-6/PUFA phobia that seems to be an inherent part of low carb/paleo movements has very, very little scientific merit.

            And of course: there’ no need to create “nuts vs vegetable oils” type of scenarios. E.g. studies on Mediterranean diet strongly suggest that BOTH are recommendable.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            Mie — That’s a very good point. I agree with the overblown n-6 phobia that runs rampant in the Paleo community. Your point about it not necessarily being a matter of pitting nuts vs vegetable oils is another interesting consideration that I’m going to look deeper into, per your mentioning here (thanks). I realize that the promotion of n-6 PUFAs as being of special benefit has been seriously challenged in recent literature, but their outright detriment (especially within relevant contexts) is something I agree with you is quite suspect.

          • Mie says:

            Alan, I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

  21. Robbie says:

    I will ask the one question I ask of all “Paleo” critics. Dr. McDougall, Alan Aragon, et al. What do you say to the thousands of people who have seen great improvement with a change to a “Paleo” diet? That they should stop?

    I put “Paleo in quotes because I couldn’t care less about the history of food consumption. I’m concerned with what works for me, my family and my clients. Is Paleo perfect? Heck no. But it’s doing more than any other “fad diet” is to help people take back their health.

    I can’t help but think that the critics are upset because they aren’t seeing the same website traffic, book numbers, etc as they used to. Best way to create traffic? Draw hard lines and let people pick teams.

    • A paleo critic says:

      I think a diet like something outlined by Cordain is going to produce positive change in somebody who needs to lose some bodyfat and has weight-related health issues. “Paleo” if taken as a rule of thumb to mean lots of fresh produce, lean meats, seafood, tubers, and a handful of nuts now and then is fine. It’s not like there’s anything deeply wrong about eating that way –far from it — I don’t think any critics are suggesting that.

      The issue has more to do with factual claims as to “why” Paleo advocates claim the diet works or that it’s somehow “optimal” compared to what evidence-based nutrition has to offer, when this simply isn’t true.

      So, if you want to dumb it down for your clients and you’re sure they can hit their macros and get a nutritionally comprehensive diet based on a few rules of thumb, cool. Just don’t feed them BS about grains being evil, or low-carb being the only solution, or the minute amounts of solanine in tomatoes and potatoes somehow making those plants off-limits because they aren’t paleo, etc…

      If your clients have more specific goals and you want to maximize their potential as effectively as possible, I would heed the advice of folks like Alan or Lyle McDonald.

      In my case, I dieted for the first time in my life following a paleo diet from 218 down to 180 pounds. I lost way too much muscle in the process. After discovering Alan and Lyle, I’m up over 200 pounds, even leaner, and built like a wide receiver (and I’m not a young man).

    • Alan Aragon says:

      I don’t operate on the motivation of website traffic, book sales, etc. If I really was, I’d concoct some gimmicky, catchy set of oversimplistic rules that promise to solve everyone’s diet problems. Karen approached me to do this interview, and I’m utterly impressed with both her professionalism, and frankly her courage in offering me a platform to speak from an opposing viewpoint. You need to not get angry at what the scientific evidence has to say about ANY fad diet. Don’t get mad at the data. If you enjoy the diet you’re on, then great. More power to you. However, if you started preaching it as The Supreme One, then get ready to be challenged on that claim.

  22. Maggie says:

    How sad that the respected Alan Aragon has graciously agreed to an interview with a “hostile” audience, only for them to cherry-pick his words apart and attack him as lacking credibility notwithstanding his years/decades of experience and qualifications.

    If the Paleo (or Atkins or Zone or whatever) diet works for you, great! If not, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Looking and feeling is the best revenge/gift in the world. Hats off to Alan for being such a great sport about it.

  23. Pedro Sun says:

    Thanks Karen for the interview with someone outside of the “paleo world”. I’m sure there is more out there but the only reason I know about this one is because of wonderful facebook 🙂 Just wanted to post this article as I think it lends to treating nutrition as a religion
    http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/09/18/calling-for-an-end-to-nutrition-as-religion

    Yo Alan, you a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics?

    Also good news, twinkies are still in business, YES!!!

  24. Pedro Sun says:

    cool man, can you give me a heads up on what your topic is gonna be about at the AND sponsored event?

    • Alan Aragon says:

      They want me to discuss Paleo dieting & weight loss. And I’m just assuming either AND sponsorship (or) some type of AND sanctioning, since it’s a continuing education conference to provide CEUs for RDs & CMEs for physicians. It’s gonna be in So Cal, I’ll announce the details on Facebook once they roll in. Thus far I’ve just received an email invitation to speak along with some preliminary logistics.

  25. Raphael says:

    I personally stopped my on slot of obesity and insulin / sugar problems, lost a lot of weight and have all the energy I need.. There is no need for an afternoon snack or coffee. Saying that, the evidence is overwhelming from great doctors like Neurologist, Dr. Perlmutter, who just finished his book called ‘Grain Brain’ shows the evidence from studies done at U Penn and Harvard linking to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, et al; Dr. Mercola and many more that have put lots of time and study into this subject… they uncover that clean eating is the pathway to health and prevention… One more note of caution to all health seekers—there is a lot more money put into the forces against diets like Paleo, so beware of these ‘experts’, they may be making a lot of money working for the really large multi-billion dollar agra-businesses all the while pretending to be legit… This industry will do anything in politics and health to trick us all! Good luck balancing out all the mis-information and ask yourself what makes common sense here…

    • Alan Aragon says:

      Actually, common sense would be seeing that among the world’s healthiest populations, a low proportional intake of carbohydrate, as well as grain and legume avoidance, are NOT common threads.

      • Raphael says:

        So what, that is non-sensical. I obviously mean what feels right, what seems right, what is right… that is common sense… it tells us to eat whole organic clean foods that our ancestors ate long, long ago, but we are lucky in a way to live now where it is easy to by pastured livestock for example and to get health care when getting infections or accidents. Common sense tells us we messed with these weeds and we went to far with them, with all the new insulin spikers that we made in the last 5,000-10,000 years. Common sense tells us that obesity is getting worse all the time, because we are easily addicted to these sugars and grains, portion control is not sustainable for most people. By the way have you tried this yourself for a real month, if so did you really push the good fats up to a high percentage of daily intake, be honest and give me you experience, because you really shouldn’t talk about it without the old college try. Eat Clean people…

        • Jay says:

          Protein alone will cause an insulin spike, Raphael.
          Whey, an excellent adjunct to any bodybuilder’s daily regimen especially so — and even more pronounced insulin response is realized after ingesting both protein and carbohydrate together. This is a good thing.

          Carbohydrate and insulin are not the evil you seem to think they are.

          Me and my six pack are in the mood for a bowl of Cheerios after reading your posts.

        • Mie says:

          Alan does indeed make sense. In addition, scientific literature – superior to sc. “common sense” – also tells us that “grain” isn’t a synonym for “sugar” and that it’s precisely the latter (that is, sugary beverages and other products with added sugar that produce little satiety) that is the problem. Compare e.g. Mediterranean diet which contains plenty of (whole) grain products with the basic Western diet containing mainly refined carbs.

          • Raphael says:

            Hi Mie, you seem upset… no reason to be. Alan is a reporter / Paleo critic and I would only expect him to find things that slant his way, he is probably connected to Monsanto, General Mills or one of those through a third or fourth party, so nobody would find out. Washington has a lot of lobbyists and one of the largest is the agra-business lobby that spend millions on media to reinforce there messages–another words there is always an agenda. Since Alan did not respond to my question about actually trying this diet for a good month, it speaks volumes. How about you, everyone I know and have read about have had major success stories and most can sustain it over the long haul. In fact, all sorts of doctors are starting to right about this because they have tested and investigated it… The evidence is so overwhelming, read ‘Grain Brain’ by Dr. David Perlmutter. He is a little newer to this and he is a neurologist. And what is Alan, a doctor… maybe a scientist, or just a reporter who studies what he wants to further his argument. Eat Clean!

          • Raphael, I know Alan personally, and he has an excellent understanding of what’s healthy for him and what works for him. …and since he doesn’t have any real health issues that I know of, it’s hard to say that he would feel any better on a paleo diet, anyway. I eat pretty paleo, and I basically feel the same as when I was eating non-paleo foods all the time.

            Challenging someone to a diet that they don’t believe is best doesn’t often work, and has nothing to do with whether the diet is good, hidden bias, etc.. I would not go vegan, just because I was challenged, for instance.

            Alan is no more connected to the food giants than you and I are, with the exception that he probably buys things like bread.

            I think you are correct that people/doctors are discovering all sorts of connections between foods and poor health, and I believe that more study will bring actual evidence to light, but that doesn’t mean that a lot of it isn’t anecdotal evidence now or that people aren’t ‘finding what they’re looking for’ in studies. I believe that more specific studies will help clarify what’s important, and to whom, but that’s going to take time.

          • Raphael says:

            That’s great that he is not connected somehow, but he makes part of his living criticizing one of the most all around healthy diets that one could have. So, if I spent my time doing that, I would do what Morgan Spurlock does, he does the thing he is talking about. It is not anecdotal when I got tested on so many levels including inflammation markers, trigs, very small LDL’s, sugars/insulin and so many others. Regular doctors were fascinated by my results, and preventative doctors, like Dr.Rothfeld (Rothfeld Center) were not surprised and often has people go on a similar diet. This is what is happening to lots of people, is it not evidence that people are a lot more healthy. I am glad you are on Paleo, it is a preventative for brain disorders among many others. Read ‘Grain Brain’ by DAVID PERLMUTTER, MD, renowned neurologist, what he says should be inspiring to anyone who wants to keep their wits as they get older, good luck and stay healthy!

          • Alan Aragon says:

            Mie, please do me a favor & email me: alaneats@gmail.com (if you would). I’d like to discuss some stuff that’s off-topic from Paleo specifically.

        • Alan Aragon says:

          Raphael, you & everyone else I’ve challenged thus far have failed to show me the controlled, in vivo data showing the adverse effects of whole grain & legume consumption in healthy humans. You can wax on all day about your love and devotion to whatever diet fad, but it’s a different thing entirely to furnish objective evidence (instead of personal anecdote).

          • Raphael says:

            I have been pointing to all sorts of evidence… When you are challenged you get defensive. I wouldn’t dare be a critic of a diet for a living without really trying it, see all the doctors and what they are now saying. You are exposed now, there is only one agenda and please stop throwing those other arguments around. There would be no humans around today if our ancestors didn’t live anecdotal evidence through their most difficult lives, in fact that’s how almost everything we have now is based on that kind of anecdotal evidence. Your silly evidence study thingy is not impressive at all compared to mankind, thank goodness our ancestors had common sense without agendas. Your agenda is transparent, show me the study on yourself or stop talking!

          • Alan Aragon says:

            ^Once again, you failed to deliver objective scientific support for your stance. You keep leaning on personal testimony – which is the weakest form of evidence in a discussion such as this. My personal testimony & observations from being in this field for 2 decades different yours, but so what? In this type of discussion, it’s the scientific evidence that matters. You are incapable of showing that the weight of the scientific evidence support the harm of diets that include whole grains and legumes. Keep staying in denial of this. LOL @ “Your silly evidence study thingy is not impressive at all compared to mankind” — Keep denying that some of the world’s healthiest populations are regular consumers of grains & legumes. You are religiously married to your diet, and scientific evidence will not sway you.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            One more thing, your appeal to “all the doctors and what they are now saying” is a complete joke (and grossly inductive reasoning, at that). Once again, this is why we need to lean more heavily on scientific research than the opinions of doctors in the popular media. They range the gamut from sensible to sensationalistic. You have not the slightest clue about how to support your stance with objective, research-based evidence. What if I pointed to Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, Dr. Lustig, or Dr. Sears, etc, as my main basis for dietary health claims? I’d be doing the same as you are right here – which is nonsense.

          • Raphael says:

            Your the reporter with the agenda, not me…

          • Alan Aragon says:

            ^Agenda to help people separate speculation from evidence? Not gonna deny that.

          • Raphael says:

            I blog for free, you make a living being a critic, you do the math…

          • Raphael says:

            Answer the question, YES or NO, have you tried Paleo for 4-5 weeks doing it the right way (fats, protein and produce) or even tried it at all for that matter. How many time do I have to ask. You are a critic of this diet for a LIVING and you can’t tell me you have not tried it. just answer the question yes or no.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            At this point you’re straying way off-topic to mask your inability to defend your claims.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            Once again, this is not a fireside testimonial-sharing session. My experience & observations are far more vast than yours, but they are STILL too subjective to present as evidence for the claim that everyone should do just as I do.

          • Raphael says:

            Arrogant, you don’t even know me… You are a bully with a big ego. Thanks for letting me expose your true agenda…

          • Jay says:

            C’mon, Raphael. You’re hardly being bullied. The internet gets a lot uglier than what so far feels no more uncomfortable than having a chat with some buddies at the pub.

            Post objective, high quality, peer-reviewed papers to back your claims.

            Alan doesn’t need to talk about his diet and how super-duper awesome it makes him feel. He need only be concerned with evidence, as an objective man of science. Anything else would carry the stink of motivated reasoning.

            Telling us about your health improvements does nothing to advance the discussion. Seeing improvement in your metabolic panel after going on a diet –not just a paleo diet– is completely unremarkable. Indeed, that’s what happens! Add exercise and you’re going to do even better. To attribute these improvements to the exclusion of specific foods is nothing more than a case of confusion.

          • Raphael says:

            He has been exposed for what he really is and you are not being objective, because you too would see the light… We have be thriving and growing as humans for a very long time and now we are sicker and fatter, not because of bacon, but because of insulin spikers.

          • Jay says:

            Read this article by James Krieger:

            “Insulin…an Undeserved Bad Reputation”

            http://weightology.net/weightologyweekly/?page_id=319

          • Here is one published research article I found so far with my little phone at my sons practice:
            http://thepaleodiet.com/published-research-about-the-paleo-diet/

            Eaton SB, Cordain L, Sparling PB, Cantwell JD. Evolution, body composition and insulin resistance. Preventive Medicine, 2009;49:283-285.
            Abstract:
            Objective. Better understanding of the relationships between body composition and insulin resistance.
            Results. Average human adiposity and sarcopenia have attained unprecedented levels and the resultantly abnormal body composition distorts insulin receptor balance. Compared to evolutionary norms we now have too many adipocyte insulin receptors (in adipose tissue and liver) and too few myocyte insulin receptors. The body’s insulin receptors can be conceptualized as competing for insulin molecules released from the pancreas. When an insulin molecule docks on an adipocyte receptor, substantially fewer glucose molecules are cleared from the blood than when an insulin molecule docks on a myocyte insulin receptor. Populational insulin receptor imbalance would seem to parallel the secular rise in insulin resistance and offers an attractive pathophysiological explanation for the accompanying type 2 diabetes epidemic.
            Conclusion. An evolutionary perspective regarding body composition, insulin receptor imbalance, and the consequent impact on carbohydrate metabolism should enhance public acceptance of recommendations to increase physical activity.
            Download PDF

          • Jay says:

            That paper basically says, “Being fat, lazy, and having little lean body mass most likely screws up your insulin sensitivity. In conclusion, it’s probably a very good idea to exercise.”

            I am not amazed, Sir.

          • Raphael says:

            One study from Harvard:
            ‘Whole grain’ not always healthy

            Harvard study finds new standard needed to help consumers…

            http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/01/whole-grain-not-always-healthy/

            New England Journal of Medicine show higher Glucose levels raise chance of demetia:

            http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1215740

            That study was sighted in this article by BY DR. DAVID PERLMUTTER on Aug 28 called ‘The Surprising Ways Grains Are Destroying Your Brain.’

            I know you have an answer for everything, but recently it is becoming more prevalent because the Neurologists and other doctors are digging this up more and more. Do you know what very small LDL’s are and what they do. They do what people used to think what fat did, block. your arteries. Turns out, now most good doctors out there know this fact. I remember when CNN had a health report from Sanjay Gupta, M.D. a few years back, revealing these facts. So now we have many more discoveries that show that processed grain increase risk of Dementia, heart disease and diabetes to name a few. Do you believe in any of this or is your agenda rock solid, remember my agenda is clean. I will never get over the fact that Alan won’t divulge everything from his own experience with a Paleo type of diet. If I were to be a critic of Nike Jordan basketball sneakers, I better wear them and play basketball in them or I would not be believable, same goes for a diet critic. The science or nothing argument is lame. But when these extensive studies do come out over the next few years (when the can really afford it) Alan will be the first to point out factors that were not included and continue to act disingenuous. You will never, ever say you were wrong, so you will always have an argument up your sleeve. This direction of these diets is a movement that is unstoppable, even against the billion dollar industry. Now go ahead and give me all the smarmy, bullying comments you want, it is what you do.

          • Jay says:

            Raphael…

            The first url is simply about establishing better standards for labeling a food as containing “whole grains”. For that matter, title of the article might as well be, “You’re Not Always Getting Much in the Way of Whole Grains When You Think You’re Buying Whole Grains”. But that’s probably not very catchy, I’ll admit… probably why I’m not an editor at a magazine or newspaper.

            The second url which links to a study abstract about “Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia”, doesn’t say anything about diet. I’m not sure what you want me to respond to here, especially in the absence of the full paper.

            Excerpted from sciencedaily article about the study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130807204835.htm

            “So should people try to eat less sugar — or foods with a lower “glycemic index”? Not necessarily, Dr. Crane said: “Your body turns your food into glucose, so your blood sugar levels depend not only on what you eat but also on your individual metabolism: how your body handles your food.” But he does suggest that taking walks couldn’t hurt: The ACT study has previously linked physical activity to later onset and reduced risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
            Furthermore, Dr. Crane emphasized that these results come from an observational study: “What we found was that people with higher levels of glucose had a higher risk of dementia, on average, than did people with lower levels of glucose,” he said. “While that is interesting and important, we have no data to suggest that people who make changes to lower their glucose improve their dementia risk. Those data would have to come from future studies with different study designs.”

          • Alan Aragon says:

            So, asking you to furnish evidence other than “it worked for me and some doctors” is bullying? I think you’re confused.

          • Raphael says:

            I will gather the evidence from these doctors and scientists if you tell me YES or NO.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            You are asking for my personal anecdote. Get it through your head that it’s not relevant to the topic at hand, nor is it relevant to a discussion on the science of things. If I told you I’ve tried Paleo for an extended period and it did nothing but decrease my physical performance and increase my cravings & obsessiveness over food types, it would not matter because personal experience is subjective. Plus, you’d probably tell me I wasn’t Paleo-ing right. Re-read Jay’s response if you insist on taking my responses as bullying.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            Raphael, the Eaton et al paper you linked does not show whole grain or legume consumption adversely affecting healthy humans. In fact, there is ZERO mentioning of grains or legumes at all. To reiterate, I want to see controlled data indicating the harm caused by whole grain &/or legume consumption in humans, in vivo. Try again.

  26. Pedro Sun says:

    sounds good man! I’ve only been to one AND event and that was in San Diego. I like the debate style lectures more so I hope it will be something more like that.

    And good luck in answering all the accusations and questions about what you wrote. It’s like discussing religion it seems, it’s never probably gonna end and no one (maybe a minority) will likely change their views. There might be some excellent trolling along the way though. Pay the toll 😉

  27. Antonio says:

    Hey Raphael

    “Common sense tells us we messed with these weeds and we went to far with them, with all the new insulin spikers that we made in the last 5,000-10,000 years. Common sense tells us that obesity is getting worse all the time, because we are easily addicted to these sugars and grains…”

    >>> actually, this is not true. Obesity has leveled off in recent years, fyi

    Also, your fear of insulin is unreasonable
    ftr your diet is far more insulin spiking than you seem to be aware of (see Jay’s comment above)

    Also, have you studied evolution? cuz people have adapted to grains & dairy in the last 10,000 yrs. Also, I’m not ‘easily addicted’ to any food, so you may want to be careful with your blanket statements. They might make you appear to be zealous

    “…there is a lot more money put into the forces against diets like Paleo, so beware of these ‘experts’, they may be making a lot of money working for the really large multi-billion dollar agra-businesses all the while pretending to be legit”

    “…he is probably connected to Monsanto, General Mills or one of those through a third or fourth party, so nobody would find out.”

    >>> you’re going overboard here brosham, but thanks for the lulz .. conspiracy fears & accusations are not only unfounded & unreasonable, but also, it makes you look like an ass.

    But also, cuz on your blog, you sell: stevia, almond flour, oral products, omega fats, Primal Fuel (low carb meal replacement).

    Yet you said you blog for free?
    No, you don’t, you sell this shit. And none of that is ‘paleo’ or has any relevance to anbody’s ancestors, fyi

    “…That’s great that he is not connected somehow, but he makes part of his living criticizing one of the most all around healthy diets that one could have.”

    >>> pretty big blanket statement there
    Do you travel outside the US ever?
    Also, from your blog

    “All grains are a NO NO with a few exceptions…”

    >> Seriously, you need a vacation. If you get out in the world, esp to places where people have been living off grains for thousands of years, you just might see that your claims are pretty silly.

    “…If you follow these rules and continue to listen to what your body is telling you, read up on the latest paleo and primal information, you should start to feel and look better soon.”

    >>> the latest paleo and primal info, like who? Jimmy Moore? Mark Sisson? Mercola?
    Whole9 aka ‘Team Ortho’?

    “Your friends will call you crazy, but they will start to ask you how you have so much energy and how you look so much better, eventually they will respect you turning down that slice of cake of homemade italian garlic bread.”

    >>>Dude if you’re friends call you crazy, you may want to pay attention to this type of social feedback.

    And if you turn down homemade Italian garlic bread, you just might be out of your fucking mind.

  28. Kyle says:

    Wow, it looks like Alan Aragon has given this website a TON of pageviews!! This is moronic. If he had said he prefers to box instead of lift weights, would he have been attacked like this? The man is entitled to his own views, especially since he has credentials and experience to back up his statements. dang. Remember this:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.” -Teddy Roosevelt

    • Raphael says:

      And that’s what makes it ironic that he does not answer whether he has done the diet himself, I have only asked him ten times now. Pretty standard… If you were a critic of I-phones, I assume you would want to use it and all it’s features before opening your mouth and say anything about it, no? It makes one a fraud with getting in the mud…

      • Bob says:

        I’m a critic of shooting yourself in the head, but I haven’t tried it to make sure. Logical fallacy much?

        • Raphael says:

          ONE OF THE DUMBEST POINTS EVER MADE IN HISTORY of points.

          • Bob says:

            The sad part is that you don’t get the analogy. Based on your other responses, I’m not at all surprised.

          • Raphael says:

            I got you analogy as soon as I read it… Still the dumbest point ever. My reason is so obvious that if you don’t get why yours was the worst since the invention of the word dumb, than you are equal to that word. I would not show up anywhere that people know you for a few weeks. I would be so embarrassed if I had said that… Now I am feeling sorry for you. And if anyone backs you up, they are equally (that word). I still can’t believe you thought that was smart. WOW!

          • Bob says:

            I can imagine you just furiously punching your keyboard hoping words and logic come out.

          • Raphael says:

            No, just laughing… That really could be the worst analogy I ever heard, my six year old has better ones… not angry, just disappointed in Alan and the rest of them. He should fess up or shut up, its not nice to make a living like that, he needs to be a lot more genuine. I read the whole article hoping he had his own experience to talk about on Paleo, that’s the kind of thing I would have liked. Listen, it cost a lot of money to fund these study’s and this ground roots movement does not have the billions that the cereal grain industry has to knock us down. It is the same kind of crap the energy industry spews. I am sure BP is and Monsanto really care about your health and well being. We all need to focus what we have in common and and not listen to disingenuous, so called expert critics, just use your own judgement and common sense, after all that’s how we learned to heal each other. I personally tried almost every diet, including whole grains and portion control… let’s try and be peaceful, it sounds like we have similar goals and that is a start…

          • Bob says:

            BTW, you look like Fred Armison’s retarded brother. That explains a lot.

          • Raphael says:

            Are you still commenting after the worst analogy in history. I thought you would be hiding out by now with a case of Nutri-Grain bars.

          • Bob says:

            I’m hiding behind a book of logic. You’ll never find me there.

          • Raphael says:

            LOL. At least that was a good joke, nice one.

  29. Fred says:

    I agree with a lot of what Alan says here. I’m with him on everything except wheat, at least short term. I think what people are having is an awesome recovery period, from perhaps over consumption of wheat, and then they think they can never eat it again or that it is the source of all evil. If they tried introducing it, a few times here and there, they’d see that in smaller amounts, it’s fine.

    Also, 80/20 can be 6 days on 1 day off, which ends up looking similar to a CKD, and not a bad plan for weight loss.

    Alan how do you eat during the week?

  30. Brett says:

    For those who would like to say they are feeling better cutting out some foods. When you go onto any diet, and remove crappy foods like candy, fried food, and heavy meals where your portions are crazy big, then yes you will feel a ton better no matter if it is Paleo or non Paleo. If you eat healthy foods, and don’t over eat, you will always feel better. Being a vegetarian can help a lot of people with diseases when they need their immune system to be stronger because of all the bacteria in meats. It is all dependent on each person.

  31. Raphael says:

    Dear Karen, on behalf of all clean eaters, we truly thank you for exposing Alan, you knew this comment section would bring it out of him, very smart. He has bullied me, made fun of me and all of us, not been rationale and most of all we learned how disingenuous he is by not giving a yes or no answer to whether he has tried this type of diet for an appropriate amount of time, etc…

    Warm regards,
    Raphael

    • CK581 says:

      Saw you reference “Dr” Mercola a few times…
      http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/mercola.html

      Also please stop whining about the so-called “bullying,” it’s pathetic for a grown man to whine. Congrats on thoroughly showing all the readers how religiously you follow this fad, and how adamant you are at being against science, must be a proud moment for you….

    • Spotty says:

      All you have “exposed” is how dogmatic you are.

      Glad Paleo works so well for you. But you seem angry. I suggest you eat some carbs.

      • Raphael says:

        LOL… I eat carbs everyday, plenty of them… have you heard of ‘produce’ ? I love veggies, and most fruits that are in season. I use stevia if I want some added sweet taste, I don’t follow a lot of those eat paleo dessert books because my mind has no need for it. BTW, there is enough fiber in produce, the whole fiber rich cereal marketing is a scheme for lowering cholesterol (it’s BS). If used to be in the marketing field and there is nobody in the agra-business that cares about your health, I am not talking about laborers either. I am sure we can all agree on one thing, local whole foods are the way to go, right?

        • Joe says:

          Whatever nutritional benefit you think you are getting by avoiding grains (which new evidence supports that paleolithic humans did, in fact consume, btw) i gurantee you it is not worth the stress of not having dietary freedom. The stress of having to turn down a couple slices of pizza or a couple beers with your friends, simply because it isn’t your “cheat” day yet. If you aren’t having cravings AT ALL, then go ahead and continue eating the way you eat. But if you ever feel the urge to eat a slice of toast, a pancake, or pasta, please do yourself a favor and enjoy those things moderately along with lean protein and veggies. Stress is a huge factor in your health. Don’t take it lightly. Anything in great quantities, is bad. And like Alan said, the study you posted does not show whole grain consumption adversely affecting healthy humans.

        • CK581 says:

          On you appeal to anecdotes…
          https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/anecdotal

          On you inability to provide data…
          https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/burden-of-proof
          https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/the-texas-sharpshooter

          On saying Alan has “ulterior motives” (Which is f*****g ridiculous, and again, pathetic to see a grown man do this kind of crap)
          https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem

          ^Which also fits well as an effective red herring (or tu-quoque)
          https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/tu-quoque

          It’s very obvious you clearly have no clue what you are doing here, I think it’s also keen to acknowledge that you have been made fun of over a social media site by individuals who have witnessed this pathetic display of hypocrisy. Once again, congrats, must be a proud moment for you….

          • Raphael says:

            Feel better? I am glad you got that out of your system, maybe you will have less stress now, you sound smart like a lawyer or something, but does insulting really help…

            Anyway, we all will find info to back up anything we want to, but what do doctors believe that works for them, here is a great article that shows what docs have been doing forever and how it is related to the subject of anecdotal evidence and science:

            by Heidi Stevenson

            Whenever someone expresses an opinion based on personal experience, especially in the field of medicine—and that opinion varies from the view held by the listener—the usual response nowadays is, “Well, that’s just anecdotal. The science doesn’t agree with you.” That statement sounds so convincing. After all, we can and do make mistakes in our observations. We make connections that aren’t there.

            But, does that make anecdotal evidence invalid? And are science-based answers necessarily correct? In a word, No.

            Doctors effectively and necessarily use anecdotal evidence every day. These bastions of evidence-based medicine actually base most of their practices on anecdotes. Sound crazy? Consider:

            If you tell your doctor that a drug he’s just given you is causing a terrible headache, the chances are that you’ll be believed, and your treatment will be changed. He’s basing that decision on the anecdotal evidence you’ve just given.
            Doctors tell each other stories of experiences during surgeries. If one doctor tries a new technique in surgery, it is almost never tested. Other doctors simply try it themselves if it sounds interesting. They’re basing those decisions on nothing but anecdotal evidence.
            So, what is scientific evidence that makes it so important that one’s personal experience can simply be ignored, tossed aside as if it holds no value? In this age of science for sale—science co-opted by multinational corporations in virtually every arena—it has come to mean less and less in terms of providing real information on which to base health decisions.

            Science in Medicine

            In point of fact, anecdotal evidence is routinely provided in medical journals. They frequently produce articles of individual cases. If such anecdotal evidence weren’t of value, then why are such stories printed? It’s because they are evidence. Each case matters. Each case counts. The anecdotal evidence is of value.

            Science can be a wonderful tool for gaining knowledge. It is not, though, the be-all and end-all of knowledge—especially in terms of health. Medical science studies tend to be one of two types:

            The blinded placebo-controlled study, with variations on blinding and placebo-control.
            The population-based epidemiological study.
            Both are useful, but neither tells the whole tale. The blinded, placebo-controlled study attempts to eliminate anything the researchers deem to be irrelevant or likely to skew the results. That, though, narrows the focus to such a degree that it cannot account for all the variables that affect each individual person who might be subjected to the product, usually a drug, under investigation.

            Population-based studies provide information about what’s true across enormous groups of people. They provide averages and ranges. However, they tell us nothing whatsoever about each individual.

            Ultimately, the only evidence that truly matters is anecdotal: what a treatment does to the individual. It matters not if some nonexistent average person might benefit from it. That has little bearing on the individual’s reaction. It matters not if a large proportion of people tolerate a treatment well, if the individual is made ill by it.

            The only medical evidence that truly counts for each person is anecdotal.

          • CK581 says:

            Anecdotal evidence is exactly what it is, and no more. It does not make the final say on conclusions nor can it make causation statements. “Relevance =/= reliability”.
            The examples portrayed in the post you pasted have little to do with dealing with specific questions that cannot only be answered with data, it merely addressed personal sensations. It spoke of feelings and how one felt they reacted to medicine.Chemo doesn’t exactly make a patient feel better, but it destroys the cancer sells, are we to abolish chemo purely on the merit of “I feel terrible when doing chemo”? “Does your head hurt” can be finely answered with anecdotal evidence. “Do grains cause adverse health effects” can ‘maybe’ start with anecdotal, but CANNOT be drawn to conclusions unless empirical evidence is found.
            Anecdotes may begin the question, but quantitative data will answer it.

            This is the largest flaw in your logic, and it’s quite surprising how you refuse to realize this. PS: I fail to see how i am the one stressed, considering the incredible amount of replies and comments you yourself have made on this post. Seems i am not the one who is most upset about their ideas being challenged, huh?

          • Raphael says:

            I don’t feel stressed, my blood pressure has been perfect for years, long walks and meditation help me with those things too. I totally agree with you with it is not the ultimate answer, we need that, that is true we all need that answer to help solve these health related issues. You make good points for sure and that help me continue to grow, I appreciate that and I can learn more for sure. My question is how much anecdotal evidence is needed– 10,000, 100,000 20 million. What would it take to be overwhelming in your eyes. Discovery on these things is key you are right and also right discovery does have an impetus, thank you for this discussion.

          • CK581 says:

            “My question is how much anecdotal evidence is needed– 10,000, 100,000 20 million. What would it take to be overwhelming in your eyes.” <=== That statement really shows how oblivious you are to the hole in your logic. Once again, anecdotes only get so far, and if you REALLY can't see that, that's unfortunate, because you will be forever stuck in a mindset unable to properly use objective reasoning without emotion. 10,000 anecdotal statements will have such a variance in how they explain (Not including the INCREDIBLE amount of other variables that can intervene) that if you think a legitimate single conclusion can be drawn, im sorry but you just really don't understand the scientific method.
            There is a reason for doing lab studies with controlled and independent variables you know…
            As well hypothesis need to be falsifiable, there needs to be empirical and quantitative data, and personal feelings such as "I feel healthier after going Paleo" are not even close to any of those, and honestly, saying "The only medical evidence that truly counts for each person is anecdotal" is easily the most idiotic thing i've heard in quite some time. I suppose well just discredit every single medicine and treatment then, considering that none of them were found to be useful by anecdotes, but rather by studies…
            PS: In my opinion, a good diet is one that includes, not excludes, and that is what the Paleo diet (at it's core) is quite honestly about, excluding non-ancestrail foods, and other "unhealthy" foodstuffs (Dairy, legumes, grains…) that have NOT been sufficiently supported by DATA to show that they are indeed unhealthy in the scope of an overall diet. I could care less about what n=1 says about how they "felt" after having some dairy food one random day, if they happen to find a much larger subject base and find that what Paleo is against is actually unhealthy in the context of an overall balanced diet in a majority of people, then ill change my mind. Seeing as how that's not the case though, i remain unconvinced.

          • Raphael says:

            OK, fine. I never said anecdotal Evidence is the end all be all, we both just discussed a need for the evidence with data from studies, but what comes fist is the anecdotal evidence then the test, we both just agreed to that. This is a diet / lifestyle that involves proper sleep / playing and exercising. The food is just part of it, there are a lot of factors that contribute to health and we all have a long way to go to figure them out, but we are getting closer, and one of them comes from this lifestyle and a lot of people are saying that, it counts for something, and should not be discounted.

          • Anonymous says:

            So much aggro.
            True science has no agenda and is completely unbiased. Although there is no such thing, that’s just the way of the World now and we just have to get on with it.
            You do not choose your hypothesis or point of view and then try and prove it right, you must try to disprove it.
            Nutrition really is a theological mess.

          • Raphael says:

            Nice way to think about it, it is a mess for sure, but hopefully healthy local food eaters can outway the interests of the billion dollar processed food industry at some point, it is an uphill battle, but one that must happen to help mankind be sustainable and strive instead of reacting to illness and so many health problems.

    • Dear Raphaël,
      Thank you for showing us that you are incapable of discerning the difference between dogma and critical thinking.
      You have dodged the question asked to you by pointing a finger at Alan and accusing him of being a bully. We’re still waiting on your answer.
      See, perhaps it’s a problem with starvation. Perhaps a lovely sandwich, or some cereal? After all, you should start your day off right before you get into intellectual arguments.
      No one will deny that if you feel your diet is working for you, that’s great. The problem with dogma is that eventually someone is going to come and demand some proof.
      I have a theory – go ahead and eschew all the grains, and non-paleo items. That leaves more for the rest of us.
      It’s a free country after all. Just don’t push your dogma on anyone else if you can’t back up your absurd claims.
      “paleo” followers make it harder for mainstream nutrition experts To take the protocol seriously because of the zealotry of the “followers”. Screw the anecdotal evidence, how you feel, whether we all submit to kumbaya singing under the grasses of the open plains whilst we hunt our grass-fed buffalo – let’s submit all of the pale claims to scientific review. Forget mark fucking Sisson, or some fat ass podcast/blogger cashing in his snake oil. Forget the “movement”. If it’s really gonna stick,, do what’s right, and SUBMIT it for peer review. Otherwise, you have no leg to stand on.

      • Raphael says:

        For the last 20 years I have been critically thinking of how not only me, but what could work for everyone and help the environment too. I like to help others now, I just tell them to do the best they can and not to worry about it too much, just keep the long run in mind for clean eating. I am constantly reading the things my brother sends me in opposition and he reads my stuff. I know what dogma is and it’s true, it may seem like that, but I just thought I was going to comment once and from the get go, I was attacked. I have the right to try to enlighten people who want to believe that they can still eat their O’s and pancakes every other day. I don’t have enough time to get all the data, I have a family and work responsibilities… I have show a few studies linking to brain damage and heart damage. I just want to help people get healthy and eat clean, I really think it will help change the health care costs to prevent illness and not have to take meds…

        • So, you have time to proselytize, yet no time to back up your claims. You are not helping, unlike Alan, who Has taken the time to critically read and digest the science.
          Walk on by, son.

          • Raphael says:

            So you too find it OK, that he hasn’t tried the diet if that what he puts down for a living… Am I the only one who thinks that is important. That would be the first thing I did, for a good long time before I started to comment at all. The guy who commented on the Google Glasses walked around NYC trying to use all the features, then he commented. The same thing goes for almost anything people use or need everyday, that’s how the reporters can start to gain trust.

          • Do you think that trying the cookie diet is any worse?
            How about the:
            Andorrans—the mountainous region between France and Spanairds
            Vilcamba Valley—the Andes mountains in Ecuador
            Himalayans—the Hunzas in Pakistanis are the 3rd longest-living group of people
            Abkhasians and Georgians who live in a mountainous region near the Black Sea in Russia
            Macau in Southern China
            Okinawans
            Japanese
            Singapore
            San Marinos, a nation state in Italy
            Chinese
            Australians
            French
            Canadians
            Swiss
            Sweden

            Perhaps you could try their diets yourself before slamming theirs?

            Fish, Whole grains, plant foods, animal proteins/fats, dairy, probiotics, tea

            The problem here is – we are talking about scientifically reviewed studies. Why the resistance to putting the paleo approach to a peer reviewed study?

            Otherwise, I can counter each and every response you have detailing how awesome paleo is with another anecdote on how the opposite diet (that is, grains, dairy, and other paleo no-nos) have helped someone (or a group of people) with their problems, or lack thereof.

            It’s called critical thinking. I don’t need Robb Wolf, Lauren Cordain, Mark Sisson to tell me what’s right by buying a course, book, Primal Fuel, join a foundation.

            All I have to do is look to what my Grandparents (and Great Grandparents) ate.
            Your problem is you’re obviously too invested in Paleo/Primal to give up.

            I tried Paleo. I gave it it’s due. It worked initially, then it sucked.
            Then someone (and a group of people) told me I wasn’t doing it correctly. That I needed supplements.
            Hmm… cult much? No thanks losers!

  32. Karen thank you for interviewing Alan. He might be the most credible and logical person I have ever met.

    I think it is important to look outside the box but not go so far to where we lose site of what is truth and what is belief. Thanks

  33. Jake says:

    Raphael your a bit of a lil bishhhh

  34. Raphael says:

    Lastly, I think people should make a living being a critic of diets that don’t use healthy clean foods as their basis, no need to waste time on something that is actually healthy for you. What could be the underlying reason anyone would critic a healthy, whole food diet. If we don’t want to eat grains, so what. I eat some grains here and there anyway. The point is, there must be a reason that a person would have a job pouncing on something that is good and healthy… There will never be a genuine reason, just something that sounds really good, remember they (agriculture industry) have billions to spend on twisting the truth to make it sound right, it is in there best interest. For some reason you guys don’t trust me, but I don’t make a living at this… 20 years from now, wheat, corn, soybean and sugar cane farms will be a lot fewer and we will be a lot more knowledgable and smarter using local sources for whole, clean food and use less factories for our foods. The trend is prevention, that is a good thing…

    • Spotty says:

      “The point is, there must be a reason that a person would have a job pouncing on something that is good and healthy…”
      That’s veeeeeeery interesting… meditate on that statement for a few moments and get back to us…

      • Raphael says:

        I am not a great writer or anything as special as you are, but I am trying to say it does not make sense to critic a health good for you diet… sorry that was not clear. But there must be a underlying reason someone would have that for a job… it called a hidden agenda…

        • JR Gill says:

          You’ve honestly made yourself look like a complete ass in most everyone of your comments. I was happy to laugh at them until I read this one. Alan has no hidden agenda other than using science to show people the truth.
          People who don’t have a scientific mindset will never understand that. You will stay closed minded and unable to evolve and advance. But since you want anecdotes instead of hard science how’s this: I lost 60 pounds of fat and muscle on Atkins. My weightloss had become stagnat and I was not seeing any real increase in hypertrophy or body composition. Asking some respected people in the sports and nutrition industry lead me to Dr John Berardi. I began following his nutritional recommendations aka Precision Nutrition. In 11 months I lost 40 more pounds of fat and after 2 years have kep my BF% at 10-12 while increasing my LBM by 20 pounds. If I had stayed closed minded and not left Atkins or the low carb approach I would still be stuck where I was, but because I was open minded enough to see things differently (based on hard science) I was able to make a change for the better.

    • You need to understand that we can find people who honestly believe that the HCG diet is good and healthy, not to mention the vegan diets, Mediterranean diets, high fat/low carb, high carb/low fat, DASH, etc.
      You don’t have to try a diet to criticize it, and if you truly believe that a diet is not healthy, why would you try it just the criticize it?
      For some reason, this point is making you doubt Alan’s sincerity, because it seems to make you think that he must be getting funding or kickbacks from somewhere or selling an anti-paleo product, but that’s very unlikely. He writes a monthly research review, he’s written a book that’s not an anti-paleo book, and he works with clients daily.
      He’s seen the research and (right or wrong) sees that there is value in people eating whole grains and legumes, because some studies DO suggest that they are good for improving health. It is not cut and dried.
      On his web site and blog he has no advertising or affiliate links, while you do, btw. Yet, no one is accusing you of selling out. No one thinks you are, either; we just think you have a different,honest opinion.

      • Raphael says:

        Now we are having a healthy conversation and thanks for enlightening me on those topics, I appreciate that. It frankly sounded like this is his thing, the “the Paleo Critic” and all. And he seems so interested in just the facts, when anecdotal evidence has been used in medicine forever, it is one of the most important ways to figure out medical issue and frankly the basis for all knowledge, see this article to help explain: http://gaia-health.com/gaia-blog/2012-04-11/anecdotal-evidence-the-basis-of-all-knowledge/
        I want to thank you for not attacking me on this comment string, it helps everyone grow and learn when we are ciivil. The other point is hard for me to get around, why not tell us your own experience with Paleo if any, for me that makes it more genuine, I had my own experiences with it and learned from it and changed it to fit me based on my experience. So his greater understanding would come from trying it and then sharing, so we could all learn from some of the problems he may have encountered, that’s all. BTW, I have made 10 cents so far as I need to badly update my site and I never plan to make a living at this either…

        • You’re welcome.

          I agree that personal stories make things more relatable, but sometimes we don’t have any great ones. John Durant lost a few pounds, but that’s not a big deal. I have no dramatic story to tell, as I lost 100 lbs counting calories, way before I started to eat this way. I have and had no health issues to speak of, but because my family has a long history of autoimmune disease, I think it’s a good idea for me to eat strategically. I was also hoping that my hair would grow back… 😉

          • Raphael says:

            But did you see my point from that article, that’s how I felt before I read the article. I have been to lots of doctors and the good one are always asking the right questions, then they know what tests to do. They are throwing this vital evidence out to improve their argument. I am glad healers and people in general did not do that long ago or we would not be around to discuss it. It really is how everything was invented… I am glad the Wright brothers and Davinci tested their ideas out…

          • I understand that, but using anecdotal evidence to treat and adjust treatment on a person is one thing, but it doesn’t mean that the anecdotal evidence points to the true cause/solution/cure. It might have worked for that person for a variety of reasons. It’s valid evidence to look further, but actually doesn’t prove anything other than it worked for you. Even then, it only shows that you noticed a change for the positive, and it’s likely caused by what you did. You don’t know whether something else would have had the same effect on you.
            When I was 275, the paleo diet or Atkins probably would have also helped me to lose weight, but my anecdotal evidence is that Calorie King was what did it (counting calories).
            Vegans, paleo, vegetarians, and many others all have similar anecdotal evidence for weight loss, better bowel function, mental clarity, etc. There’s a huge overlap in ‘healthy diets.’

  35. I just wanted to drop in to say Raphael you are all kinds of stupid. You should NEVER go full retard… ever…

    • Anonymous says:

      I just wanted to drop in and say pretty pathetic. Whatever you think of the guy, comments like that, like the one i am writing now, do nothing but take up space and water down the whole discussion.
      Most of the idiots like you, who write stuff like that, wouldn’t say boo to a goose in da real life so why say it here?

      • Raphael says:

        Thanks, but I will look deep to see if that bothers me or not, words like from someone can only only mean that person has some real demons to deal with and I automatically forgive them in a forum like this.

  36. Pop Tart Man says:

    I love Pop Tarts, they are incredible.

  37. Sue says:

    Raphael, did you not see this comment from Alan: “If I told you I’ve tried Paleo for an extended period and it did nothing but decrease my physical performance and increase my cravings & obsessiveness over food types, it would not matter because personal experience is subjective. Plus, you’d probably tell me I wasn’t Paleo-ing right.”

    So whether Alan has done Paleo or not isn’t relevant.

    Fred Hahn also likes to tell people that they’re not doing low carb correctly if not seeing results.

  38. Dear Friends,

    I am remiss in not following up! I’ve been somewhat distracted over the weekend. But I’ve seen the comments rolling in!

    Logical fallacies abound on both sides of the issue. For example, I was challenged to produce in vivo studies to justify ancestral health. Therefore, the diet fails? This is a fallacy called “burden of proof.” Just because there is no study that supports my viewpoint, that doesn’t mean its not true.

    Anecdotal fallacies have indeed come forth. n=1 does not allow for generalizations. This is the anecdotal fallacy at work. Several instances of this have occurred.

    The appeal to authority has also been used. This is an obvious fallacy.

    Ambiguities and loaded questions have been perpetuated. Fallacies both.

    Lots of personal attacks, some direct, some not-so-direct. Even, the use of the word “silly” is an indirect attack on character. It’s condescending. And it’s a logical fallacy called ad hominem. And it’s very destructive to a genuine discourse.

    Discussions of clean living are a fallacy called the true scotsman, the idea that an appeal to purity dismisses criticism.

    For both sides we have all made a fallacy called the appeal to nature to make our points valid.

    And the biggest fallacy here thus far has been is tu quoque, or the idea of facing criticism with criticism. It’s a more aggressive form of a red herring.

    But I beg the question! 😉

    For my own part, I value that an ancestral diet needs more vetting. Thus the formation of the Ancestral Health Society and the brand new Journal of Evolution and Health is an important step. I’ll add that Alan’s version of the diet also needs vetting. Certainly the diet of most Americans has resulted in unprecedented levels of diabetes and obesity. We might not have all the mechanisms down and there is considerable debate about what the ‘ideal’ diet is or even if there is such a thing.

    I prefer to look at what we have in common rather than the differences. In fact, I judge that Alan’s diet IS a step towards an ancestral diet. He clearly advocates whole foods over processed foods, a major tenet in an ancestral diet.

    The argument that eating purely Paleo is unnecessary in today’s world because it denies certain foods is a strong argument precisely because it’s so very difficult to maintain in the face of today’s culture of eating, of advertising, of corporate machinations of food manufacturing process, and of costs. Indeed, many studies have shown that denial of food INCREASES the likelihood that you’ll want to reach for it for example.

    I think that the underlying issue surrounds hyperpalatability vs palatability. And I think that we agree here (at least for the most part). Eating whole foods is palatable while eating refined grains and added sugar is hyperpalatable. Sodas clearly come under the category of hyperpalatability and if Alan truly advocates this (which I doubt) but it has been said here, I admit a surprise there as that would seem inconsistent with his message of whole foods. I have not read through his book nor his research, so I am no expert on what Alan does advocate. Alan’s discourse through the interview was his disagreement with Paleo rather than an advocation of his theory of how it should be. I personally would like to hear more about that! I suspect that we actually have much in common.

    • Raphael says:

      Very nicely said and I agree with you, but don’t you think he should try the diet if he is going to be the biggest critic and do that for a living, it just become more genuine, no?

      • Raphael,

        No, I don’t actually. His argument that an n=1 isn’t sufficient is absolutely correct. It might change him personally, but it shouldn’t sway an objective viewpoint. I agree that in vivo studies are needed on a large scale. The problem comes from Internal Review Boards in grant writing. These boards would struggle with the idea that eating holistically is a good thing simply because the model for research is for therapeutics. Prevention is NOT advocated by NIH (Natioinal Institute of Health) nor NIMH (National Institute in Mental Health) in reality. The funding isn’t there (at least in the US) to do such a study. It’s really too bad that we have come this far.

        The few studies that have compared are limited in scope and longitude as Alan as pointed out. I would LOVE to see this happen myself.

        Almost all of the animal studies that I’ve reviewed were done with mice and rats. Conclusions about cholesterol and insulin and PYY and leptin and ghrelin and NPY and POMC alpha MSH, and amrylin and CCK and GLP1 and somatostatin and somatomedins and, well, you the point that there are hundreds of mediators of hunger, were done on rats eating a REFINED diet (AKA: standard chow). I would even challenge that the numbers used to determine human numbers are based upon statistical analysis of a population that was not eating a species-specific diet. Do you realize the implication that if ALL of those studies where a refined diet (or in the case of rats and mice, the standard chow) was used to make a conclusion AND that it was shown that an “ancestral diet” changed the physiological outcomes and plasma concentrations, it would invalidate millions of studies. That would be as big as the Avery McCloud & McCarty paper that demonstrated that DNA was the unit of heredity when EVERYONE was certain that it was proteins that were the units of heredity. Can you imagine how hard it would be for all the life scientists to swallow this paradigm shift?

        Sorry Raphael, a long answer to your question! Forgive me!

        • Anonymous says:

          I can see what you mean, thanks and a study like that would be great. Did you see that study on the apes (john durant) and how they changed with grain vs whole foods… It thought it was compelling… Any thoughts on that.

          • Yes, I did see that study. That was one of the clues indeed, that perhaps we need to revisit what is referred to as species-appropriate diet. This study strongly suggests that diet can not only affect homeostatic mechanisms (likely through an epigenetic mechanism), but even behavior and cognition can be altered. Look for a submission soon for the latter! 🙂

        • From my own research, while I don’t see the in vivo studies that Alan is advocating, I DO see physiological underpinnings that support an ancestral health diet. For example several mechanistic studies do suggest whole grains are problematic because of the prolamin class of proteins (that includes the gliadins of almost all the grains) that are not broken down to amino acids and can cause clear autoimmunity issues. The molecular mimicry from lectins rears it’s ugly head in that literature as the outcome of such proteins to hydrogen bond glycoproteins (including antibodies!) to initiate autoimmunity is clear.

          I think that the idea of penetrance, a genetic term used to describe incomplete expression of a gene, is lost in the arguments. I have no doubt at all that people tolerate grains and that many don’t. The question of dose does come into play as Alan pointed out. The issue comes in a long term chronic ingestion of these molecules. This is what hasn’t been studied. Epidemiological studies aren’t going to give us much about chronic ingestion simply because the number of compounding variables is so big that the interactions between them is too large to quantitate. Correlations fail magnanimously under these circumstances.

          So, Alan is right. We need the in vivo studies. And they need to be longitudinal for at least 50 years or perhaps even a lifetime.

          According to my hypothesis, while not based upon in vivo studies, but rather a comprehensive look at foods upon their effects to appetite regulation, an ancestral diet will do very well in such studies. It is certainly erroneous to call it a fad when it’s purpose is to mimic the food intake that occurred during the evolution of mankind. From this viewpoint, I find that the extremism is actually the other way! Hyperpalatable foods from refined processing is the extreme food, not the whole foods advocated by ancestral diets.

          I’ll finalize that statistical analysis is being done one person at a time on PatientsLikeMe.com. I encourage everyone to offer themselves up as guinea pigs there! Some very interesting results have shown themselves in a variety of issues. Perhaps food and lifestyle choices might very well get vetted a bit there.

          • Raphael says:

            Thanks David, your responses have been very detailed. I can learn a lot from you, both in your words and your overall calm tone. I may have gotten caught up a little in some of my responses from Alan and his followers, so I apologize to you and the entire forum. I will stay civil from now on…

          • joe says:

            Did an ancestral diet really exclude grains? I posted a TED talk on this thread that shows otherwise. Your thoughts?

      • Kate says:

        Raphael, you do realize you can eat clean paleo and eat carbs? I do paleo 100% and my diet is 40% carbs, 40% protein, 20% fat.

        • Raphael says:

          Yes, my carbs come from all sorts of produce. I am generally 50% fats, 30% proteins, 20 carbs… somewhere in that area. But I go out like everyone else and I will have a spoonful of desserts, because people want me to try their food, that’s fine. I don’t use the word Paleo or Primal when I am asked. I just say I try and keep toxic food out of my body. It is a no stress approach to social situations. Turns out that a lot of my friend are trending in this direction anyway. Most educated people get that a common sense whole food approach (non-processed) is probably better for them, I don’t know why this seems so complicated to others.

  39. Tony P says:

    At this point I consider Alan Aragon a cancer in the nutritional world. He seems more interested in arguing semantics than actually helping people achieve healthier lives. In some of his opening statements in that article, he sights the need to consume minimally processed foods, and then closes the article by saying he appreciates that paleo pushes people to eat more whole foods. So instead of embracing the positive qualities of “paleo” he’d rather write attention grabbing headlines, and ad nauseam symposiums about “lack of research.”

    It’s also hilarious that one of his biggest gripes about paleo is that it’s a diet of exclusion, and then turns around and criticizes those who follow an 80-20 template by saying “20% equates to a bowl of cereal a day, sounds like a modern diet to me.” So what you’re really saying Alan, is that you’re pissed you weren’t sharp enough to come up with a label and market it, so now you’d rather spend your free time trying to destroy it? The complaint about hating “labeling diets” seems like a thin veil of jealousy to me. What’s in a name, anyway? It’s just a quick and easy way for people to identify with certain principals. It’s just how the human mind works.

    If Alan were paying attention, he’d realize that most paleo proponents start strict and then slowly re-add food groups back into their diets based on the very same reasons he says you shouldn’t necessarily remove them in the first place. Again, I see this as a positive thing. Since we (as he aptly pointed out) are very far from our neolithic food options, it makes sense to start by removing anything at all questionable, and then find a healthy balance by reintroducing certain foods. Training is no different. Start with the basics and at more complex modalities as you move along, systematically, to observe changes.

    And lastly, I have completely lost my tolerance for the whole “innocent until proven guilty” approach with food “products.” Unfortunately not everything can be studied, and even if it could, there are no absolutes in the results, because there is and always will be, too many variables. Alan speaks of food avoidance as if suicide rates have tripled due to people excluding certain foods. It boils down to this:

    Paleo has
    -Helped people move to a diet centered around whole food
    -Improved people’s awareness of what is in the food they eat
    -Increased the need for locally grown/raised food
    -Helped people overcome chronic disease

    Why Alan really doesn’t like Paleo
    -Because it has a name
    -Because it can limit “taste enjoyment” (which is highly dependent on the individual)

    Yeah, Alan, keep fighting the good fight.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tony P — You are “Exhibit A” of how ignorance and dogma self-perpetuates. Keep selectively ignoring the logically fallacious & scientifically unsound aspects of Paleo, rock on. I definitely WILL keep fighting the good fight against ignorance, dogma, and those who cannot think critically & would rather swallow fairy tales.

    • Mike Howard says:

      Says just about everybody who doesn’t have a scientific argument.

      The straw man arguments and false dichotomies are absurd. The butthurt is VERY strong with this crowd. This is about having sacred cows urinated on.. THAT’s IT.

      There have been no attempt at a science-based argument. If you eat a certain way and it works – awesome : ) Alan has never told you to do otherwise.

    • Bob says:

      Butthurt Paleotard is butthurt. Those semantics are called facts. Don’t let them get in the way of your tirade.

    • joe says:

      The bottom line is that there is zero conclusive evidence that grains or legumes are harmful to healthy individuals. And there is new evidence that the paleolithic men did consume grains. If eating “paleo” doesn’t stress you out, than by all means continue to do so. But if the restrictions are causing you to become irritable, or have cravings, try a little moderation. It’s only worked for some of the healthiest, grain consuming cultures on earth. And you’d better not have Whey protein powder seeing as how that is not a whole food but is rather a highly refined, engineered derivative of milk.

    • Alan Aragon says:

      By the way Tony, you conveniently forgot to mention another thing I don’t like about Paleo: it gives people false, neurotic perceptions of foods, and can exacerbate people’s obsessiveness & risk for disordered eating. What if I told you that everyone needs to get on a diet that avoids all nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, and eggs since they are common allergens. Everyone also needs to stop eating cruciferous vegetables due to their goitrogenic potential. After all, these foods can always be added back… Would that make any sense? Of course not. Same irrational/ill-supported universal exclusion principle, different foods. Finally, your accusation of me being jealous that I didn’t think of my own diet gimmick is just hilarious.

    • Pepe says:

      Tony P… Saco de pelotas!!

    • I would counter that diet gurus that peddle their current fad of the day (Whole 30, Paleo, Primal, Low-Carb I’m looking at you!) are the cancer.

      No one is jealous. In fact, it seems the people who are making the money here are the ones “helping” us by asking us to submit to anecdotal evidence, to trust them over authority, and to shell out our hard-earned cash with their supplements, books, courses, crash-21 day detox, Primal fuels, exercise videos, books, seminars.

      Of course the government is wrong! Of course they are bad. They are wasting the money better spent lining the pockets of the gurus who peddle abject bullshit to a bunch of sheep that are willing to jump on any bandwagon to help their problems instead of actually doing the work required to lose the weight.

      Yes, I can see how you justify calling Alan a cancer… too bad your argument holds no water.

      • Raphael says:

        You make good arguments and good rationalizations actually… nice job. And there are people that are using Paleo as making money for sure, then again there are people like doctors that make money that they know helps people with their ailments… I do think at least 20% are Paleo fakes that are just trying to make a buck, but that goes for a lot of similar industries. My question is one of millions of examples: Do you think the people that make Nutri-Grain Bars care about your health or are they making claims to get people to buy their product, same for GM Cheerios with their heart healthy cereal that actually help lower cholesterol (fine print “May Help”… Do you think the middle of America from the top to the bottom of the country that makes all these crop factories actually care about you or their pockets with subsidies from the government so it is cheaper to make to export our incredible cereal grains to china, et al… do they care about anyones heath, really… they are making billions and I used to help market some of their crap before I started feeling guilty about and started my journey to educate myself. Do you think anyone in the grain business cares about our health, they and the energy companies in a way control our government with their money, they pay for campaigns and lobbying (See Koch brothers). I understand why you may think they are doing what’s right, they have been advertising and marketing and making our government say what the food pyramid should be… they have fooled most people, so I don’t blame you, but do you still think that the FDA cares about our health? The balance of money making from Paleo gurus, doctors and scientists compared to the grain industry is (99.999% grain) to (00.001% Paleo). All you have to do is find what jobs these influential people in government had before and after, they cash in, in the private sector. For example Condoleezza Rice was on the Board of Directors at the Chevron Corporation before she worked for Bush at the white house, draw your own conclusions.

  40. Chris says:

    Honestly don’t know how Alan puts up with people misrepresenting and misreading his writing. I’ve tried paleo, it didn’t work for me, but I have friends who have had great success with it. All Alan seems to ask for is that there is proper scientific evidence provided for a diet which is presented as the ultimate in healthy eating. People who claim Alan is somehow profiting
    from critically analyzing paleo fail to see that many of those who have pushed paleo have profited massively from it. It’s also very disturbing how extremist people can get over food. Alan I applaud your stand for rational, evidenced based thinking. Also a life without skittles isn’t worth living, even if the toxins do give me cancer.

    • Raphael says:

      Chris a lot of people feel like you, with the Skittles, but I hope you don’t get cancer from them. If you knew it might give you cancer next week instead of in thirty years, would that make a difference? Also the Paleo profits are below 1% of the profits made from all over the grain industry, there goal is to make things that taste great so you always want to eat their cheap factory processed made foods. I think we all want to see the science like Alan needs… it will come soon I hope, I just hope if it comes out that grains are really bad that there are no more excuses from him, I doubt he would not twist it so he doesn’t look bad. I am hoping everyone is authentic and genuine, it would be nice indeed. Also on the other side we all need to stop putting processed grains down if the evidence favors grains.

      • RA says:

        Raphael, how do you explain why the Okinawans live for so long (some of the highest in the world) despite eating foods the paleo movement rejects? What about Sardinians and their pasta and pane carasau? Or Ikarians and whole grains? Why do people in France, who is third amongst first-world countries in life expectancy, and Japan, who is first, live so much longer than any other places despite their grain-rich diets? Or are you implying that they would live longer on a paleo diet? If so, what proof do you have of this because the cultures that live the longest eat grains, legumes, nightshades, etc.

        • Raphael says:

          I don’t think all that is true that you mentioned and in any case there are many many factors that contribute to groups of people in different areas. Maybe there stress is lower and they are in the sun more getting more exercise, maybe they are eating more fish and less overall junk food, I don’t know, but there are many ways to survive.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            “Survive” would be the wrong way to put it. These populations thrive and are the world’s longevity champs, and have among the lowest rates of chronic and degenerative disease. None of them are grain & legume avoiders (in fact, they are regular grain & legume consumers). Once again, people preaching against the consumption of these foods have a heavy burden of proof to bear. Not only do controlled human interventions fail to support their stance, but population-based research does not either. Paleo is a rule book written on speculation & ideology rather than reality. You have fallen hook, line, and sinker for this lore.

          • Raphael says:

            I wish I could go along with that, but there always seems to be another side to the story. Have you mentioned this to the so called experts like Robb, David, Mark, or the many other experts. I would like to hear there response to balance both sides. But I used to eat healthy and lo cal, whole wheat and exercised a good amount, even made a list of everything I would eat daily. Still had various ailments. In just a few days, my energy was much better, moods where even, so many things starting clicking, happens to friends and family members that give it a try too, then I hear the same stories. How can you expect me to not believe in something when my very small particle LDLs changed patterns to A from B, triglycerides and blood pressure are perfect with my sugar / insulin levels back to normal. How can you expect me to think I have been fooled… Please don’t say placebo, that argument really doesn’t fly for me. I know these are not blind studies. I don’t need a study for me personally, but I think it could be an important addition to the knowledge everyone could use to help figure this out.

          • Alan Aragon says:

            People’s opinions (popular figures or other) hold little merit in a scientific discussion, Raphael. I have dug through the Paleo claims with a sincerely open mind, but guess what…. The scientific research basis (especially for universally excluding grains & legumes) is very weak. You found what works for you as an individual. Bravo, no one’s arguing against that. It’s food vilification, minus sound scientific basis, that really deserves to be put on the chopping block.

  41. Raphael says:

    From the Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, a study with clear evidence that high carb low fat can be brain damaging, and I know that is not what Alan is looking for, but this is just one of the good reasons to go that way if you don’t like dementia:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22810099

    • Gabe says:

      Raphael, the abstract you link to just tells us that a higher relative intake of carbohydrates is associated with a higher incidence of MCI with regard to the examined cohort; it tells us nothing about causation (How do we know, for example, that developing MCI doesn`t increase the brain`s dependency on carbs?), and it also doesn`t provide much information as far as control for potential confounding factors is concerned. Thus, it most definitely does not constitute “clear evidence that high carb low fat can be brain damaging”, but even if it did, the nutritional “way to go if you don`t like dementia” as implied by available epidemiological data would appear to entail an increased intake of MUFAs and PUFAs (see for example
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20634591), the latter of which are judged to be universally proinflammatory by “paleo dogma” and hence, ironically, shunned by paleo dieters.

      • Raphael says:

        I will spend time reading that, but I stay way from PUFAs, because people like Dr Weil who has been studying inflammation forever says “Processed and manufactured foods are overloaded with fats that promote inflammation. These include polyunsaturated vegetable oils, especially refined soybean oil, margarine and other partially hydrogenated and trans-fats, as well as fats in the meat of cows and chickens raised on unnatural grain-rich diets. These foods also give us carbohydrate mostly in the form of quick-digesting flour and sugar that raise blood sugar quickly and stimulate insulin resistance in those of us who are genetically at risk for it.” He is a Mediterranean diet guys actually, believe it or not… that is the next paragraph he goes into…

        • Gabe says:

          Raphael, “people`s opinions (popular figures or other) hold little merit in a scientific discussion” , as Alan Aragon already noted; that includes “Dr Weil”, regardless of what he has or has not “been studying forever” (Although it should be mentioned that an increased PUFA-intake is not necessarily synonymous with an increased intake of processed foods and industrial seed oils, as there is an array of (relatively) PUFA-rich whole foods; thus, increased PUFA-consumption per se is not at odds with any of the information this quote of yours provides.).
          Anyway, your reaction is typical of an infuriating habit widespread among the “paleo tribe”: Readily bringing forward epidemiological data whenever their results (appear to) suit “the dogma” but rejecting them wholesale otherwise, aka “cherry-picking” .

  42. DollyDee says:

    Alan states he’s heard crickets when asking for proof from paleo folks in regards to grains/legumes. Im wondering if Mr Aragon has come across Paul Jaminet’s “Perfect Health Diet ” book/blog. Even though they advocate potato and rice (much to the chagrin of some) they still maintain the “paleo view” on grains/legumes paint a pretty bad picture of its harmfulness. Any thoughts on the evidence they present? http://perfecthealthdiet.com/category/toxins-and-toxicity/wheat-grains/

    • Gabe says:

      Nothing to see there except cherrypicked epidemiological data, ideas based on (possible) immunological mechanisms examined in isolation (notice the liberal use of qualifiers here regarding the implications:”can”, “Could”, “might”, “probably”, etc.), and animal studies. Applying this standard of “evidence”, a case can be made against pretty much any food or macronutrient, including “paleo darlings” such as, for example, red meat (epidemiological data), animal protein in general (T. Colin Campbell and his “China Study”/mechanistic in vitro studies),”goitrogenic” plant foods like cruciferous vegetables/sweet potatoes (epidemiological data and mechanistic studies), a high fat diet (mice/rat studies), etc. – see Melissa McEwen`s spoof article on kale for illustration regarding the principles underlying this kind of “nutrition science writing”. Finally, an anecdote on top:
      My experience (obtained while living in Japan for a few years) is that, contrary to popular assertions, the Japanese do like their wheat: They enjoy udon, melonpan, okonomiyaki, etc., with abandon; yet, it is indeed true that obese and even overweight people are a very rare sight. So, what`s their secret, then? From what I could gather, it`s simple, boring, and wouldn`t sell a single diet book in the US: portion control.

      • Raphael says:

        I read that: “Thanks to an anti-obesity law passed last year, Japanese salarymen across the nation are pulling up their shirts to have their guts measured… and if they’re overweight, they face consequences. If you’re male and your waist is over 33.5 inches, you’re considered fat. If you’re female, the limit is 35.4 inches. For every obese employee, the company gets hit by a fine.

        The theory is the less overweight people you have, the lower health care costs will be across the board.”

        Maybe we should have a law here, that could help I think.

        Although I have read many articles that state there has been a rise in obesity in Japanese kids, with the rise of sweets and fad goodies in their culture, kids are getting worse. There are many thoughts and stats that people have on both sides and that is a good thing to eventually getting this right…

        • Gabe says:

          Raphael,
          according to OECD data, about 3.5 percent of the Japanese population is currently classified as obese, versus rates as high as 30 percent or greater in the US (and elsewhere); no reference from the “many articles you have read” can explain that away. Also, the “rise in obesity” in Japan, which is mostly caused by “an invasion of the SAD” via fast food restaurants and snackfood (as you concede in your comment, I believe) is negligible in comparison to other countries (as OECD and other data demonstrate) and will most likely never amount to a serious problem due to peer pressure (Japanese peope hate to stand out), lots of everyday movement out of necessity (cars aren`t practical in Japanese cities, so most people don`t drive much), and modest portion sizes. In the rare event that Japanese people do find themselves overweight, they combat their condition not by “going paleo”, but by turning (back) to the “traditional Japanese diet”, which, albeit being relatively high in the dreaded grains and low in red meat and fat (especially saturated fat), has been enabling the Japanese to live to a ripe old age in robust health for a long time now.

          • Anonymous says:

            Gabe, I am sorry, not sure why you are on the wrong side of this… I was too jus three years ago and maybe you will get on the train at some point too, but it is over and you can me all the data and studies you want, remember who ultimately (going up the chain) fund the “good” wheat studies have billions to make from them, they find a way to make wheat look and sound good for you…Good luck with that. BUT, any smart person will take the knowledge and advice from a very well know neurologist who has been studying nutrition and dementia for over 35 year, sover almost anyone else. I am seeing other books and studies coming up that will just pile on to more truth and discovery for the betterment of mankind. Please do not respond if you don’t get that, because as you are about to say is I am worthless and dumb or retarded like some of the others have stated. I have been on both sides now and I am now capable of being objective. The waves of truth will overcome you all very soon, so to you and the others, I wish you good health! PS, don’t think I don’t realize the emotional pain people have to go through to give up all that bread, pasta, pizza, pastries and sugars, et al, it is a tough pill to swallow, since I have been there, I do empathize with you all… When you do get on the train, I will be there to help you through it. If I were Alan I would start to write my coming out article to have it ready soon, for he will be loved for his mea culpa. All my smart contacts agree that he is very intelligent, usually smart people end up doing the smart thing in the end, we will all be healthier if he does.

          • Gabe says:

            Raphael,
            it appears that you are suffering from a severe case of dietary dogmatism. As I have learned the hard way, resistance by logical reasoning is futile in such situations, so I am going to move on to more productive endeavours.
            Have a nice life.

          • Anonymous says:

            Gabe, it is over… the sooner you realize that the better. The better for all, that is. Question me all you want and call me names (funny), but to deny a world renowned neurologist his 35 years of studies is… you know the rest. I know you were sarcastic, but I really hope you have a nice life. A little maturity would be a good start indeed. My family is very happy and healthy and we plan to stay that way, because prevention is key.

      • DollyDee says:

        Thank you for the response.
        I agree that a philosophy of “nothing in excess”..aka – good ole boring-ass portion control and common sense moderation would be a great idea.

        Here’s an anecdote- My grandmother (97 yrs), great grandmother(d.98yrs) and great great-grandmother (d-104 yrs) live(d) with this ideology if not by choice but by circumstance. They did partake in the bounty of EVERY food group (as available) and avoided none.

  43. Raphael says:

    Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD
    Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age. He offers an in-depth look at how we can take control of our “smart genes” through specific dietary choices and lifestyle habits, demonstrating how to remedy our most feared maladies without drugs. My question is, are all these doctors and scientists and more in the future going to be called whacks too?
    You can find the video on this page, scroll down on the right:
    http://www.drperlmutter.com/about/grain-brain-by-david-perlmutter/

    • Gabe says:

      This appears to be nothing more than a sensationalistic “opinion piece” trying its damnedest to impress via “appeal to authority” (and cherry-picked data); it very much reminds me of the scientific debacle known as “Wheat Belly” – fabricated by “renowned cardiologist” William Davis, MD – which even some of the more science-oriented paleo proponents (like Emily Deans and Melissa McEwen, who was still paleo at the time) couldn`t take seriously and had no choice but to slam.

    • Kelly says:

      Raphael,

      You clearly have this need to be ‘right’, or ‘correct’, which is actually very telling. It shows that you feel the need to have complete control in your life, and that you live in fear that perhaps there may have been easier ways to correct your health problems, without being so extreme.

      We’re all different. Not everyone is overweight, or has metabolic syndrome, or diabetes. Some need to rebuild glycogen levels (which can be depleted by cortisol issues as a result of too much protein and fat), so extra — and sometimes a LOT of carbs are needed.

      I wish you the best, but in your case, I think the best might be letting go of the need to be right.

      • Raphael says:

        You could be on to something, thanks. You are getting personal though and it is a little dangerous to assume anything without knowing me, but in general I used to be like that years ago until I started to meditate which help me a lot. It’s not about me being right it’s about who I believe based on credentials and my own experiences.

      • Kelly,

        With all due respect, carbohydrates are not an essential nutrient. All but two of the amino acids used in protein synthesis can be converted to glucose as needed. Indeed, everyone does a little of this conversion every night as you sleep. Glycogen, as well, is not a required molecule as it is simply storage of glucose in the form of a complex starch.

        Indeed, you generally only require a mere 100 mg/dL. If you are an 18 y/o male in good health, you have about 5 L of blood, of which 3L is plasma. Multiplying 100 mg/dL X 10dL/L X 3L X 1g/1000 mg gives you a magnificent total of 3 g glucose floating in your blood right now. That’s 15 kcal of glucose, mind you. And if you intake more than that, it will be converted first to CO2 to make ATP, then to glycogen, then the rest is converted to fat (Palmitic acid) and shipped to adipose tissue to make triglycerides.

        There is only one instance where an increased of carbohydrates is indicated and that is someone under relatively high metabolism, such as a very fast race for quite a while, who needs their fast-twitch muscles to have an extra dose of glucose to run at such a pace. This applies to the likes of the super-elite marathon runners, not the rest of us.

        The Cori cycle usually supplies the rest of us with enough glucose during exercise that these muscles can continue just fine without an extra dose of glucose. Under these conditions, the lactic acid formed in those muscles is shipped to liver and converted back to glucose to deliver the glucose right back to those muscles. And amino acid conversions to glucose can help with that delivery.

        I’ll add that eating without carbohydrates, therefore, cannot be considered extreme simply because carbohydrates are not a required nutrient. Or perhaps you consider the Inuit in Alaska, who subsist almost entirely on the proteins found in the meat and fish they catch, as an extreme diet?

        I don’t know about you, Kelly, but personally I think most of us like to be right. I don’t know anyone who enjoys being wrong! Aren’t we hard-wired to try and be right? I think we are simply trying to figure all this out in a professional courteous way. I know I prefer that.

        I wish you well as you search for your own answers!

        Yours,
        drd

        • Raphael says:

          Thanks for that thoughtful comment, I appreciate it.

        • Gabe says:

          David,
          with all due respect, the “carbohydrates are not an essential nutrient” shtick is wearing pretty thin by now. As far as I can see, people don`t argue about little old mundane survival; rather, they discuss which dietary template might be optimally suited to helping humans thrive, and in this context it is pretty much irrelevant whether something or other is essential or not – the last time I checked, most fats – actually, almost all of them except for a couple of PUFAs – weren`t essential nutrients either .
          As far as “carbohydrate requirements” are concerned, your calculations are pretty disingenuous: The amount of glucose circulating in the bloodstream at any given moment is irrelevant, as it is in dynamic flux. If you want to set a maximum glucose tolerance in this manner, you should calculate the total turnover of glucose in all body compartments within a day. The vast majority of glucose fluxes through various types of storage; thus, to actually use the absolute amount of glucose in the blood at one moment as some type of “yardstick” for how much constitutes excess is profoundly illogical.
          It follows that your claim that “there is only one instance where an increased (intake beyond those elusive 3g/15kcal, I assume) of carbohydrates is indicated” is fairly dubious, too; seeing as you seem to be fond of utilizing the example of certain traditional cultures to reinforce/illustrate your point, I should probably mention that the number of traditional peoples (known for “healthy longevity”) who eat /ate virtually no carbohydrate (to the tune of,say, 3g a day) is rather negligible: Quite often the peoples used as examples in this context are/were not true examples of low-carbohydrate dieters (e.g. Masai) or their carbohydrate intake is at least controversial enough to question claims that they eat/ate virtually none – that would be,for example, your beloved Inuit, who nonetheless do demonstrate a singularly high fat intake, which is why their diet can indeed be considered “extreme” among traditional peoples. Regardless of this, the relevance of the “Inuit diet” is pretty questionable as far as its implications for the average Westerner are concerned; after all, most low-carb dieters don`t exactly meet their “fat requirements” via whale and seal blubber, and even if they did – autopsies of pre-contact Inuit indicate extensive premature atherosclerosis, which most people would probably rather avoid even if it appears to rarely have culminated in actual heart attacks in this specific context.
          In any case, even if we generally accept that some traditional peoples eat/ate “without carbohydrates” and don`t/didn`t have the diseases of civilization, it seems to me that whatever inferences we draw from this evidence should be made similarly from peoples who eat/ate mostly carbohydrates and have/had a similar absence of disease risk, like the Kitavans or the Okinawans.

          • Gabe says:

            In order to “flesh out” my critique of your “carb calculations”, let us consider the following hypothetical scenario: Assuming a healthy man weighing 160 lbs has a plasma volume of 3.2 L, normal fasting glucose around 5 mmol/L would work out to just under 3 grams and thus just under 0.4 teaspoons. This might double to 10 mmol/L / 0.8 teaspoons during an oral glucose tolerance test of 75 g glucose (as occurs in several rsearch labs using healthy college-aged men throughout the US). Thus, just under 10 teaspoons of glucose taken with water all at once will only wind up putting an additional 0.4 teaspoons of glucose into plasma if we employ your method of calculating things. Clearly there is a major problem equating the total amount of glucose in plasma with the total amount of glucose in the diet.
            Of course the actual area under the curve over several hours would indicate the flux of somewhat more glucose through the plasma than this, but that simply highlights the fact that we haven’t even introduced a unit of time into the (your) calculation yet.
            To wit: Should we consider 3 g of glucose circulating in the blood to be present each day? Each hour? Each minute? Each second? Each lifetime? Should we limit our glucose intake to 3 g per day? 3 g per hour? Per minute? Per second? Or should we try to eat 3 g in our entire lifetime? Clearly presenting the amount of glucose circulating in the blood at any particular moment as an indicator of desirable carbohydrate consumption is egregiously fallacious.

          • Gabe says:

            PPS:
            I forgot to accentuate that most of the traditional “peoples who eat/ate mostly carbohydrates and have/had a similar absence of disease risk, like the Kitavans or the Okinawans” can`t exactly boast of a great many “super-elite marathon runners” within their ranks; off the top of my head, I can think of only one traditional culture fulfilling this condition, namely the Tarahumara, who are certainly quite interesting in their own right, seeing as they appear to be somewhat akin to a “”Paleo”(or, more specifically, “Primal”) Antichrist collective”: Despite eating a high carb diet that includes copious amounts of grains (Gasp!) and doing lots of “chronic cardio” (The Horror!), they generally live to a ripe old age largely without heart, weight or joint problems. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

          • Raphael says:

            So which is it, we are using anecdotal evidence or not. Can we or can’t we use it. I remember the big argument against it for many of the comments by Alan and his followers. So what is the game here, you seem to really want to bring anecdotal into the playing field in a big way, so where is Alan to stop you or any of the others? Or is it only allowable when it suits your argument? I see it as a big can of worms you just opened.

          • Jay says:

            I don’t see a problem briefly mentioning your personal experience as part of the conversation; but to insist that experience demonstrates a causal relationship is another thing.

            Population-wide observations given appropriate study methodology constitute epidemiological evidence — this is not anecdotal evidence.
            There are epidemiological studies that support Gabe’s statements regarding Okinawans, for instance — he didn’t just gather this information in casual conversation from his group of Okinawan friends at the fish market.

            It can go like this in terms of increasing ‘quality’ of evidence:
            come across enough personal anecdotes and an epidemiological study may be called for.
            If the epidemiological study produces compelling evidence, a hypothesis may be formed and a more rigorous study of greater statistical power may be designed and conducted to test that hypothesis. And so on…
            If the subject under study is amenable to a large, double blinded, placebo controlled trial, then maybe we can determine a causal relationship, for example.

            So, you’ve gotta understand that a lot of us are unimpressed when you tell us about your personal experience as truth-for-all, or this guy Perlmutter (charmingly describes himself as ‘renowned’ on his own website, I noticed…), who, upon a few attempts at Google searches, apparently hasn’t produced any research at all — especially of the high quality sort. And even if he had, simply pointing to Perlmutter and not actual facts is useless.

          • Raphael says:

            Jay, I am impressed that you did not get personal and you were succinct and made a lot of sense. But it is not just my own personal experience, many thousands nation-wide is more than just me. And one should not put down a neurologist, never mind a 35 year experienced doctor and the head of 2 national nutritional groups, but any neurologist is a lot, lot more in tune with our brain health than all of us put together. His many years of experience alone is great anecdotal evidence, not my personal experience. I would suggest you read the book, you seem very smart, should be an easy read for you. I have only read a little over 100 pages. I have been hearing of more support from other doctors coming soon in the form of more books and media. So it is just a matter of a year or two, before it all comes out and the truth will make us healthier and that is a good thing.

          • Jay says:

            Raphael, your response reads as:
            “I’m offering more of the same anecdotes, which I now understand, on the continuum of evidential value, are relatively useless when it comes to demonstrating causal relationships.
            Dr. Perlmutter has lots of anecdotes, too. Did you know he’s a world renowned neurologist? It says so on his website! I think all neurologists are smart and are rarely wrong about their hunches, but this is especially the case for Dr. Perlmutter, because what he writes agrees with the conclusion that I’ve already come to.
            Anyway, I don’t have any substantive evidence to offer right now, but in a few years, you’ll all see the truth!”

          • Gabe says:

            Raphael,
            what “anecdotal evidence” are you referring to, specifically? My observations on the Kitavans and Okinawans are grounded in solid epidemiological evidence; the addendum on the Tarahumara admittedly relies on less well-established observational data, but that is perfectly acceptable in the context of its intended purpose, which was to illustrate that “Paleologic” is inconsistent even within its own frame of reference: Paleo proponents often bring up healthy and long-lived traditional peoples whose diet/lifestyle happens to be consistent with their recommendations as proof of “Paleo superiority”;and yet, when confronted with healthy and long-lived traditional peoples whose diet/lifestyle (strongly) differs from “Paleo parameters”, these same Paleo proponents assert that the respective peoples are healthy and long-lived not because of, but in spite of their diet/lifestyle – mostly by highlighting confounding factors and the difference between correlation and causation . This reveals a ridiculous intellectual double standard – which is what I meant to point out; I did not mean to establish any “causal relationships”, which, as Jay eloquently explained, can`t be done on the basis of anecdotal or, for that matter,epidemiological data (this should answer your question regarding applicability).

  44. Ondrej says:

    Mr. Aragon, I applaud your decision to graciously swim in swamp of comments! Some of the reader’s comments lowered the iq of the entire internet! Evidence based approach is the way to go.

  45. ed truck says:

    Alab Argon is a continuing education provider for the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In 2010 they received $1.2 million in corporate sponsorships from companies like General Mills, Coca Cola and PepsiCo via donations, joint initiatives, and programs…. Sounds legit.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am so shocked, it’s what I have been saying since this interview came out, my guess was that the money was getting to him through different channels.
      I am not shocked and expect more than that uncovered down the road. I am sure they will have some excuse all ready for him. Remember this is a billion dollar industry that does not want any more harm to hurt their bottom line. Fat cats have been getting much richer at the expense of our health.

    • Alan Aragon says:

      I’m also friends with Andy Belatti, the founder of Dietitians for Professional Integrity (http://integritydietitians.org/about-us), and I support their ongoing efforts to convince the AND to reject corporate-sponsored continuing education, as well as corporate-sponsored education sessions at its annual meeting. So much for your assumptions. I have no dog in the race here. I have no vested interest in the AND. They invite me to provide continuing education to RDs, and I do it on my terms – which is a scientific evidence basis. Period. Same with the NSCA, or any other organization who invites me to lecture.

    • Alan Aragon says:

      One more thing, I have invited Karen Pendergrass (you know, the owner of this site) to speak to my audience, and she obliged my request. Does that mean she has a vested interest in my beliefs or approaches? Of course not. We are professionals sharing opposing views (and also sharing similar views – ha!). Take your tinfoil hats off & ditch the lame conspiracy theories, folks.

  46. Pedro Sun says:

    great segue Alan to talk about Dietitians for professional integrity’s petition to stop junk food giants taking over nutrition programs.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-junk-food-giants-from-taking-over-nutrition-programs

  47. Liam says:

    Excellent interview! Hopefully the extremists can take something from this and relax a little…

  48. Timothy says:

    Great interview! It is flawed to assume that prehistoric diets were optimal. Considering how long the average life expectancy was back then I would assume that it wasn’t optimal.

  49. more than dr perlmutter and dr jaminet, etc etc… he’s a hack

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