Read Loren Cordain’s “The Paleo Answer” (229/366)

229PaleoAnswerTop“Research is creating new knowledge.”
~ Neil Armstrong


Dr. Loren Cordain is the founder of the “Paleo movement” and wrote the book, The Paleo Diet over a decade ago.  But, like all good scientists, Dr. Cordain and those who subscribe to the Paleo way of eating are always working to learn more, keep exploring, and to refine their studies and vast libraries of information into manageable ideas that people can understand and utilize.  Here is an excerpt from the beginning of Dr. Cordain’s latest book, The Paleo Answer:

The reason I wrote this book is quite simple.  Paleo Dieters, as well as newbies to the concept, want to learn more about the Paleo Diet and how it can help them lose weight and improve their health.  Although the term “Paleo” has become a household word since the publication of my first book, The Paleo Diet, many people simply don’t know where the term originated or what it means.

“Paleo” means “old” and is short for the Paleolithic Era or the Old Stone Age.  The Paleolithic period began 2.6 million years ago with the invention of primitive stone tools and ended with the beginning of the agricultural revolution about then thousand years ago.  During the Paleolithic Era, all of our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers until the arrival of farming, animal husbandry, and permanent villages.  Although ten thousand years ago seems to be historically far away, on an evolutionary time scale only 333 human generations have come and gone since the advent of agriculture.  Research confirms that our Paleolithic genomes have barely changed in the last ten thousand years.  We are literally Stone Agers living in the Space Age.  The Paleo Way means the Old Way, and this book is about adopting a modern healthy diet and lifestyle consistent with our genetic heritage as hunter-gathers.

He goes on in further detail, outlining the distinction between following a Paleo lifestyle and actually living life as Paleolithic man did:

I am not suggesting that we abandon electricity, central heating, public sanitation, or clean water.  We need to recognize our humble roots as hunter-gatherers and adopt the best of their world, while leaving the worst behind.  Many aspects of hunter-gatherer lifestyles are unpleasant, detrimental, and life-threatening.  Think about camping out for your entire life, and you can begin to comprehend some of the shortcomings of hunter-gatherer lives.  Our foraging ancestors were at the constant mercy of the elements and risked life and limb on a daily basis in a treacherous environment.  I am thankful for the skilled physicians and surgeons whose application of modern medicine can intervene to save our lies in the case of trauma, serious injury, or severe disease.  I think very few of us would consider trading the comforts and securities of our twenty-first-century world with the stark reality of hunter-gatherer existence.

Perhaps the most important lifestyle change we can make to improve our health and well-being is to put our twenty-first-century diet in sync with the Stone Age by mimicking our ancestors in the food groups they ate.  Improving our diet is far and away the most important lifestyle modification we can make to increase the quality and length of our lives.  By following the evolutionary template, we can gain insight into complex diet/health issues in our modern world that will allow us to live longer, more healthful, fuller lives.

He then talks about further findings, plus questions and concerns people have raised since the introduction of the Paleo diet:

In this book, I focus on a variety of nutritional issues about the Paleo Diet concept that require more detail or have become contentious since the publication of my first book.  For instance, the saturated fat question has become huge in recent years.  What is the evolutionary perspective?  Should we eat or avoid saturated fats?  How about whey protein powders as nutritional supplements?  Should we use them or not?  How can vegetarian diets influence fertility?  What about soy products and concentrated soy proteins – thumbs-up or thumbs-down?  What is the evolutionary approach to meal patterns?  Should we eat three meals a day or small frequent daily meals?  How about snacking between meals?  Fasting and intermittent fasting have become contested matters.  What about the new governmental recommendations for vitamin D?  Should we take supplements?  How about the water we drink?

In The Paleo Diet, I spoke of the 85/15 rule – meaning that if you are 85 percent compliant with the diet most of the time, significant improvements in your health can occur.  The other 15 percent – normally, three meals a week – are open meals, meaning you can choose to eat a normal amount of foods that fall outside the diet plan.

There are actually many ways you can individualize and customize your own Paleo Diet, as you’ll see in The Paleo Answer.  I refer to this variety as “Paleo diets.”

Wow, after quoting all that from the book, I was preparing to write my own entry about The Paleo Answer – when I realized that if you’ve been reading this blog, you already know that Nick and I are proponents of this way of eating.  I’ve mentioned some great films that talk about the American food industry (“Food Inc.“, “Food Fight!“, and “King Corn” to name a few), and how the government FDA recommendations are not only largely based in money-making strategies for big, wealthy food-producing companies, but how they are actually making many Americans sick – and that a lot of the current “knowledge” of healthy eating is based in a wealth of unfortunate misinformation, that simply was not questioned in the past.  In my own quest for the best information on healthy nutrition, I have read and continue to read many books on Paleo eating, and if you are at all interested in learning more, I will simply recommend this book, along with Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet.  You can also check out my many CrossFit and Paleo related posts on this blog and CrossFit posts on Nick’s from 2011.  Happy learning, happy eating, and happy LIVING!


Related Links:
The Paleo Answer Book
The Paleo Diet Book
Food Inc. DVD
Food Fight! Amazon Instant Video
King Corn DVD – CrossFit – Paleo – 2011: The Original!
INDT 2011 – CrossFit

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