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Old 06-11-2011, 09:29 PM posted to,,
Julie Bove[_2_] Julie Bove[_2_] is offline
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Default Primal diet, where it goes wrong

A Moose in Love wrote:

Primal Diet and Paleo Diet followers are asking all the right
questions, but they've unfortunately come to a number of incorrect

The primal diet, sometimes referred to as a raw meat diet, neolithic
diet, paleo diet, or even as an extreme low-carb diet, stems from the
correct belief that the processed, cooked foods modern humans rely on
are harming us and causing disease, and that going back to the type of
diet our ancestors lived on prior to the advent of civilization (which
occurred only about 10,000 years ago, an eye blink in the history of
the species) will relieve us of the diseases we suffer from.

Grains, packaged junk, and all cooked foods are harmful to us and
should be avoided, but instead of making the smart choice and
returning to the diet our species originally ate in equatorial Africa,
they've attempted to ape the later-day ancestors who got by living at
the margins of the world.

The Primal Diet = The Inuit (Eskimo) Diet

The Inuit people of the Arctic regions of Canada, Russia, and Alaska
have lived for centuries on a diet predominately made up of animal
foods, with 75 percent of their calories coming from fat.

Primal Diet Raw MeatThey didn't have much choice. Aside from a few
berries, seaweed, tubers and whatever other greenery they could gather
in their home's short summer, they were left with only animals to

Prior to the large-scale introduction of processed junk food from
developed countries, they were known for maintaining trim bodies
despite all of their meat intake.

Since western food started arriving within the last 80 years, many of
them have become overweight and developed overt diseases like
diabetes, which Primal Diet followers point to as an indication of
where our society is going wrong.

Plenty of meat is fine, they say, it's the processed, cooked food you
have to watch out for.

Because of this and the example of other meat-centric tribes, primal
diet eaters believe the best foods are fatty meats, organ meats,
dairy, honey, minimal fruit and vegetables, and coconut, all served

There are some variations of the diet that permit more carbohydrates,
but most of the food come from animal sources.

Pre-Western-Diet Eskimos Aged Early and Died Young

Unfortunately, claims about the great health of Eskimos prior to the
addition of processed foods are overstated. They are not the paragons
of health meat-centric dieters want them to be.

Primal Diet EskimosIn his book, "Health Conditions and Disease
Incidence Among The Eskimos of Labrador," Dr. Samel Hutton reported on
the Inuit before the addition of western foods.

He studied them personally from 1902 to 1913, and had access to the
detailed birth and death records kept by missionaries from the
previous century.

Hutton said: "Old age sets in at fifty and its signs are strongly
marked at sixty. In the years beyond sixty the Eskimo is aged and
feeble. Comparatively few live beyond sixty and only a very few reach
seventy. Those who live to such an age have spent a life of great
activity, feeding on Eskimo foods and engaging in characteristically
Eskimo pursuits."

The more you study Eskimo culture, the more you realize it was never
free from disease, and, in fact, people of the culture suffered from a
number of disorders we associate with meat-centric diets today.

The Eskimos were very familiar with constipation due to their low-
fiber diet, and they created the spirit Matshishkapeu, the most
powerful spirit in their mythology, to embody it. The spirit's name
literally translates into "Fart Man." In Inuit stories, he is known to
inflict painful cases of constipation upon people and other gods (7).

Read why meat causes flatulence and constipation.

It's hard to make concerete statements about the health of the
prewestern food Eskimos because there is not all that much data on
them. Most hunter gatherer tribes have little data available on them
from before the 1970s, which makes the insistence of primal diet
followers that Inuit were originally healthy so hard to verify. No one
has found any great evidence pointing to their good health.

Modern day Inuit still eat tons of meat, though, and it's taking a

For instance, in 1976, before the worst of the processed food crisis
hit them, they consumed 2,000 mg of calcium a day from all the soft-
bone fish they ate, a huge amount. All the same, they had (and still
have) the highest hip-fracture rate in the world becuase they consume
so much animal protein from fish (19).

Fruits and vegetables are extremely rich in potassium, magnesium, and
calcium, along with other minerals needed for strong bones, but
because they are alkaline and not acid like animal protein, they do
not strip the bones of calcium to neutralize the acid (20-21).

Most green vegetables have calcium absoption rates over 50 percent vs
32 percent for milk (22), but because animal food causes the body to
excrete calcium in its urine, the difference is even greater.

The more animal protein you eat, the weaker your bones become.

Hint For The Primal Diet: You're Looking At The Wrong Tribes

Unfortunately, over the last 10,000 years farming civilizations have
seized most of the land previously inhabited by hunter gatherers in
the equatorial and subtropical regions of the world, where our species
had its start.

If they were still extant, these would be the people we would do well
to study. The Eskimos and other hunter gatherers remaining generally
inhabit arctic, subarctic, and desert lands that are not useful for
agriculture. The poor quality of their land ensured they were not
destroyed, but it also ensured the diet they ate had to be at least
supplemented by animal foods, if not predominatly made of it.

Primal Diet YamaroExcept in far northern regions, scientific consensus
has shifted in the last few decades from the assumption that hunting
provides the main source of food for hunter gatherers to today's view
that hunting was merely supplementary (1).

In fact, there is no indication of the use of animal foods until the
relatively recent appearance of anatomically modern humans (2). How
long has the species been hunting? Only within the last 100,000 years,
according to one estimate (3), and less than 200,000 according to
another (4).

Fossil teeth belonging to human ancestors found in eastern Africa
suggest a fruit-based diet, and stone tools at a a 1.5 million-year-
old site in Kenya were used to process plant materials, not meat (5).

Among the !Kung of the mid 1900s, who lived in the desert and
supplemented their plant diet with a fair amount of meat (roughly 30
percent of volume), people lived much longer than the average Eskimo.
In one study of the !Kung carried out before the large-scale
introduction of western foods, out of 466 !Kung, 46 (17 men and 29
women) were over the age 60, a percentage that compares favorably to
that of elderly populations in industrialized societies. The elderly
among the !Kung were noted for their continued vigor till close to
their death, unlike the Inuit, who are considered near decrepit at 50

A Better Example For A Primal Diet

Several extant hunter gather cultures provide better examples of a
healthy primal diet diet than the Inuit.

The Yanomamö of the Amazon rain forest have been significantly changed
by contact with civilization, but the first anthropologists to visit
them there in the 1960s found a group of hunter gatherers who ate an
almost entirely vegetarian diet composed mostly of raw and cooked
fruit, vegetables, cooked tubers, and a small amount of animal food

Their great health and longevity impressed scientists, who have made
numerous studies of them. Their freedom from cardiovascular disease
and low blood pressure are especially noted (9).

Another group called the Trobriander, who live on Kitava, one of the
Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea's archipelago, is of interest.
They may be one of the last groups in the world eating pretty much the
same diet their ancestors ate thousands of years ago.

Primal Diet PapayaThe residents of Kitava live on root vegetables
(yam, sweet potato, taro), raw fruits (banana, papaya, pineapple,
coconut mango, guava, watermelon), many types of leafy green
vegetables, and small amounts of fish (10-12). Less than 0.2% of
their caloric intake comes from Western food, such as dairy, sugar,
grains, and alchohol (13). Their total fat intake averages 20 percent
of calories consumed, which is quite low compared to fat intake among
industrialized societies or the 75-percent-fat diet of the Inuit (11).

It's hard to figure out exactly how long the residents live. Their
island is infested with malarial mosquitoes that infect many of the
populace, and the lack of adequate medical care means they have a very
high infant mortality rate.

Still, during one recent study, out of 2,300 inhabitants of the
island, 6 percent (138 people) ranged in age from 60 to 95. (14, 15).
The 95-year-old woman was in complete possessions of all her mental
faculties and reasonably physically active.

Inhabitants told researchers no one had ever died from a heart attack
or stroke, or even had exertion-related chest pains. Other than
falling out of coconut trees, drowning, rare homicides, and various
other accidents, they could not recall any cases of sudden death so
common in the Western countries.

None of the elderly residents exhibited dementia or poor memory.

So Where Does The Primal Diet Go Wrong?

The primal diet and paleo diet have several flaws, the most prominent
being its low intake of carbohydrates from nutrient-rich fruits and
vegetables, high intake of animal foods, and, consequently, high fat

The Primal Diet and Animal Foods
It's possible very low intakes of animal protein will not impair
health or cause disease, but there's a fair amount of evidence showing
the more meat you eat, the more disease prone you are.

Although primal diet eaters may scoff at studies of modern humans
because their diets are otherwise horrible, there are hundreds of
studies correlating increased meat intake with increased disease.

Even when animal protein intake is extremely low (the equivalent of
three chicken nuggets a day), a person's risk of cancer, heart
disease, a host of other diseases, and early death is considerably
higher than when a person eats less meat (16).

One study of Seventh Day Adventists who follow vegetarian diets found
men living an average of 83.3 years and women 85.7 years. That's 9.5
and 6.1 years longer than the average Californian lives, respectively.
Even those Adventists who ate meat just once a week lived shorter
lives than those who ate it once a month (17).

Another studied the meat intake of half a million Americans and found
the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and cancer decreased with
declining meat consumption while age at death increased (18).

The Primal Diet And Meat-Friendly Evolution
Primal diet and Paleo diet supporters claim that even if humans were
originally fruivores, the species has evolved to eat meat and our body
has adapted to the strains of doing so.

We have indeed adapted to meat. One study suggests that up to eight
genes in humans allow for greater protection from meat consumption. We
suffer less damage from meat eating than we would otherwise because of
this adaptation, but this is far from suggesting it's beneficial for
humans to eat meat (23).

An adaptation does not mean that it will not harm us, but merely that
it will harm us less.

We have also started producing roughly 6 times more of the starch-
digestive enzymes known as amalyze compared to our chimp ancestors
because for centuries we've tried to choke down tubers and grains

All the same, we still have a great deal less amalyze production
capability than true starch eaters like pigs, and starch digestion is
still poor compared to our fruit digestive abilities.

All the more compelling is the unmistakable fact that despite any
adaptation, meat kills us.

A basic medical text will tell you that you can cause atherclerosis in
humans, monkeys and rabits -vegetarian species - by adding
cholesterol, which is only found in animal foods. However, natural
carnivore species like dogs and cats are completely resistant (25).

The primal diet can't argue with death by clogged arteries. In fact, I
think that's really the nail in the coffin of the primal diet.

Perhaps William C. Roberts MD, author of 1300 scientific publications,
numerous cardiology textbooks, and editor of the American Journal of
Cardiology for a quarter of a century said it best.

In his 2008 editorial, "The Cause of Atherosclerosis," published in
the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice, Roberts says that,
"Atherosclerosis is easily produced in nonhuman herbivores (eg,
rabbits, monkeys) by feeding them
a high cholesterol (eg, egg yolks) or high saturated
fat (eg, animal fat) diet… And atherosclerosis was not produced in a
minority of rats fed these diets, it was produced in
100% of the animals! Indeed, atherosclerosis is one
of the easiest diseases to produce experimentally,
but the experimental animal must be an herbivore.
It is not possible to produce atherosclerosis in a

In other words, any creature that can get atherosclerosis is meant to
eat plants. Any animal who cannot is meant to eat animal protein.

Humans are clearly meant to be plant eaters, and eating a primal diet
will destroy us.

The Primal Diet: Lack of Fruits and Vegetables
Primal Diet Grapes

Even though raw fruits and vegetables play a role in the paleo diet,
because of the high intake of meat, there isn't much room for them.

This is a huge mistake for anyone interested in longevity and health,
as fruits and vegetables keep us young and vibrant.

Learn more about the huge role fruits and vegetables play in our
health and longevity here.

The Primal Diet: Too Much Fat

Paleo diets contain way too much fat. The oft-idealized Eskimos get an
unbelievable 75 percent of their calories from fat, and this has

Read why high-fat diets are harmful here.

The Primal Diet: Not Enough Carbohydrates
I've yet to meet a Primal diet or Paleo Diet practitioner who managed
to stay on their diet 100 percent for more than a year.

Inevitably cravings send them backed to cooked, processed food, and
most often, various types of carbohydrates such as bread and pasta.

The reason for the high rate of failure is tied to the fact that we
need simple sugars to fuel every cell in the body, from the muscles to
the brain, and if we don't take in carbohydrates the body is left in a
perpetual state of craving.

Find out how you can get satisfied on your diet by controlling
cravings with your mind and diet.

The Primal Diet: Following Up

It just doesn't make sense to think of our ancestors as eating meat-
centric diets, nor the pre-contact Inuit as particularly healthy.

It would be a far better idea to base a primal diet off of fruit-and-
vegetable-centered hunter gatherers like the Yanomamö or Trobriander,
who have much better health than the Eskimos.

Better yet, anyone would do better fueling themselves with a healthy
raw food diet made up entirely of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and
seeds. Find out how this amazing lifestyle compares to the primal diet

I did do the raw vegan diet. Although I did like the diet it didn't work
for me because of the gastroparesis. There is just far too much fiber on
that diet for me. Made me very ill.