Friday, August 26, 2011

The Paleolithic Diet: Does It Work?

In health enthusiasts, a new desire for animal foods has begun to emerge. Many people are switching from a completely plant based diet, to a, well, primarily animal based diet. The reason for this has been unclear. In this article, we will try to cover some important facets of nutrition and explore the benefits/dangers/myths of the paleolithic diet. If you have recently been introduced to the idea of a paleolithic diet or are looking to improve your diet in some form or another, look no further, this article was written with you in mind.

Whenever I give someone advice, I always make sure I am coming from a point of experience, rather than opinion. Many diet "experts" today give advice from an opinion standpoint, leaving their experience, intellect, & intuition out of the arena. Logic is important too, as long as it is has been dislodged from ignorance & opinionated thoughts and is tied to intellect. So what are the benefits of the paleolithic diet, if any? Are there any signposts to look out for if you are practicing this diet yourself? What about the health risks of consuming a paleo diet? We will look into all of these questions and leave the information for you to digest, register, and apply on your own accord.

At a first glance, it is really enticing to eat a diet that our ancestors ate. It seems natural right? Any type ideology is generally, unnatural. This is because it envisions an aspect in which we are (currently) unable to reach. If we look at our cards with a true glance, at our current state of health, life, civilization, etc, we will be able to formulate a better answer!

Whenever I am looking into something, such as a diet, I'm always sure to observe the people who promote the diet themselves. Do they look healthy? Are they in good shape, having a surplus of energy to meet their needs? Are they aging prematurely? So who is promoting the paleo diet?


Meet the paleo crew:

  • Mark Sisson

First, before commenting on Mark Sisson, or his dietary recommendations, let me say that I've never read his book. I do not know much else besides the fact that he is one of the main promoters of a primal diet. One thing I can comment on, is his use of synthetic growth hormones/testosterone while taking the picture featured on his book. Is this ethical? Or does it enable people to do the research themselves without blindly following anyone all the while comparing information from other sources and doing what works well for them. I always favor the latter. This definitely makes me skeptical of the information that he is promoting, especially if it has or has not worked for him. (Not all people write books to help others, some do it for profit and for other purposes that may not have our best interest in mind.)

Next let's look at another primal guru that is leading the way when it comes to the nutriology of animal foods.

Aajonus Vonderplanitz (The Chief of the Animal Foods Diet)

Aajonus obviously practices what he preaches, so more due respect to him. I will say that I have never tried fermented flesh foods, nor do I plan on it anytime soon in this life or in another. However, Aajonus claims he has healed himself of many ailments by eating such a diet. Could it be? In the first video, as you will see, he claims to have had over 300 heart attacks. My logic has no option but to override my good heart in this case. While I'd love to believe him, 300 heart attacks is a bit much, and I'm not sure if this has even been done before in the history of the medical profession witnessed, recorded, or experienced. Besides his erroneous claims, some of the information that he says is true, such as the denatured condition of some foods when heated. However, he's not someone that I would trust personally or take advice from.

While there are many others supporting the paleolithic diet, we will not go into all of their personal information or discuss all their experiences with the diet; rather, we will fully engage with the available information & draw a reasonable conclusion.

Let me draw from my own experience before I continue any further. When I was 15, I got turned on to organic foods & was shewed away from fast foods, processed foods, unhealthy beverages, and so forth. I read a lot of books and was turned onto raw goat's milk, raw eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits, grass fed local organic free range bison, etc. The diet worked pretty good, except for the fact that I didn't feel too much of a difference. It's hard to when your body is still constructed from the processed food that you ate 6 months ago. So I investigated a little further and was turned onto a book that shifted gears a bit.

I read Peter Ragnar's book "How Long do You Choose to Live? (A Question of a Lifetime). This book really drew me onto the idea of raw foods & extending human longevity. So at the same age, I switched from eating my omnivorous organic to a diet completely based on raw foods, switching from eating a bison sirloin on my 15th birthday to eating carrots & celery for dinner (no pun intended). I began working out excessively and wasn't pleased with the results of this diet either, yet I continued on it for many years up to my early twenties. At first, it gives quite a release of energy & endorphins as the body begins detoxifying and rebuilding itself on organic material. Yet, it the long run, it can deplete the body's energy reserves (jing) and can actually be depleting. So where does all this lead us?

Not the primal diet. Well, this is because both diets are polar extremes. One relies primarily on raw or cooked animal foods and the other is based on, basically, grass! We are definitely not herbivores due to our lack of multiple stomachs, yet we cannot hunt and tear apart wild animals like a tiger does. Are you confused yet? Keep reading..

A lot of the people on both diets are definitely not the healthiest people around. But you probably could have guessed that on your own. Lets dive deep now into the science of nutrition and where the rubber meets the road. Lets look into what our bodies are designed to eat & thrive off of. Lets learn about nutrigenics shall we?

The goal of nutrition is to give the body exactly what it desires, and to meet the body's need on a day to day basis. When we say nutrition, lets focus in a bit more and see what nutrition really is. Our bodies are a living biological library and when we provide the best materials, our bodies function on a higher level. When we overload the body with what it does not need, we suffer. So how is this to be accomplished?

One thing that can give us a hint to what our body requires, is our ancestry. If we're Native American, maybe eating grass fed bison is a really good idea. If we're European, maybe we will do well with raw dairy products, or maybe not. If we're from a tropical reason, we should do really good with tropical fruits and tuberous vegetables right? If we're Inuit, I'm sure our bodies will thrive off raw fish & other seafoods with lots of berries and maybe some wild herbs & veggies. Where is this leading us?

The idea here, is to eat for our genes. Everyone of us is different in our dietary needs & requirements, so generalized diet plans will be excluded from this article and are not recommended. What we do recommend, however is that the individual finds a diet that works best for them, with intellect & experience adjoined harmoniously. This will assure that we are led the right way. But there's more to do, as we still have to investigate the pros & cons of a paleo diet, which is why you were led to this article!

Here are the hang ups with a paleo diet. Unless you are an aghori baba and have mastered the terrain of the mind & chi, then you will need to take some precautions on the primal diet. First off, when eating a primal diet, the body is flooded with a good amount of exogenous bacteria, virus possibility, fungus, & other foreign matters such as prions which are an interesting subject on their own. This will cause the immune system to work harder, while forgetting it's current tasks. While needed for good health, the primal diet also introduces more than enough cholesterol and dietary fats. While not all fats are bad and while most people are fat deficient, the amount presented in the primal diet is a bit much and not always healthy. Need I mention that not all of us are running the Great Plains and hunting down bison? So we are probably not utilizing all of the animal proteins/fats that are coming in, a signpost for future distress. In other words, if you are a white collar worker, the paleo diet may not suit you well.

So what? We're exposed to bacteria, viruses, and fungi every day. Our body can handle it right? Not always. Unless you're loading up to extreme amounts of herbs, medicinal mushrooms, and other immune modulating agents, it can be tough on the immune function. I noticed personally when eating a primal diet that my body was more prone to infections and I would get sick often with an ear or knee infection out of the blue. When I switched to raw foods this ceased as well as my allergy to poison ivy. This verifies that detoxification is real indeed and does provide some value if used in moderation and extremes are avoided.

So if you're on a primal diet and don't plan on changing any time in the near future, you would be wise to include plenty of fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchee, kvass), garlic/onions (to fight bacteria), cayenne pepper (to keep the heart healthy), and maybe even some sacred tobacco (a potent medicine that I save as a last resort to use for parasitic infections from its effectiveness) to keep the body free of parasites. In Russia, after a cold winter where an animal based diet is the usual, people will fast on garlic alone to cleanse the body. Is this optimal? Probably not. I tend to avoid garlic/onions at all costs since they are both very tamasic in nature and tend to be toxic in large doses, especially on the brain and nerves, possibly the bones as well. From all the people that I've talked to, a lot of people have experienced damage to the muscles/nerves from overdoing it on onions & garlic. But if you're primal, you have no option but to include these foods into your diet. One man in particular, said that he lost a good amount of muscle mass from eating an excessive amount of garlic every day. So this is not my personal version of an ideal diet, always taking herbs/mushrooms to buffer the toxins from the food that I'm eating (which is supposed to be medicine, right?)

Another thing to take caution on is non-kosher foods. While I'm not Jewish, there is much truth to the kosher system for health purposes. On a scientific level, non-kosher meats/fish tend to accumulate much more toxins than kosher ones. For instance, clams & oysters are literally the garbage containers of the ocean and are very high in heavy metals. If I decide to eat seafood, I'll choose something low on the chart such as sardines (a true Italian food) that are loaded with CoQ-10, B-12, potassium, calcium, selenium and much more. Pork is the worst and I never advise anyone to eat a pig or any products from the hog. Pigs are one of the most unconscious, lethargic, ignorant, and loathsome animals and when you eat a pig, you take in all that energy. Pigs don't care what they eat, whereas goats are very meticulous with their diet and will never eat something that their biology doesn't support.

Are there any benefits to the primal diet though? Well, yes, but in limited terms. If there is a very sick, weak, and terminally ill patient, as Aajonus stated, raw animal foods can be invigorating and can even help us put on some weight. Put in the long term, eating fried bacon for breakfast, animal pates for lunch, and grilled pork chops for dinner be all that healthy? What about prions in meat? What is the treatment for prion disease, if any? How about cooked meats (which still have prions, prions cannot be destroyed by heat, radiation, chemicals, or anything else known to us at this time)? When we cook meat, its very high in carcinogens. One health author wrote that one pound of cooked meat contained 300 mg. of benzpyrenes, equivalent to smoking 300 cigarettes.

Physical "sensations" to look out for when considering the primal diet:

  • Arthritis - one of the reasons why I personally don't do well with animal foods is the high concentration of goitrogens, purines, & uric acid. Almost everyone in my family who is up in age has developed arthritis, so for me, eliminating animal meats is a good idea!
  • Heart disease - I know, saturated fats are good for us and very necessary. But extremes always lead to the worst. Atkins did die of heart disease right? Could it have been the bacon and eggs? {Your input goes here}.
  • Acidification - animal products are highly acidic, so be sure to include plenty of dark green organic leafy greens and their juices, seaweeds, spirulina, chlorella, etc.
  • Mental fog/retardation - who knows the gym junky who has the brain of a T-rex? Yes their physique may be impressive, but their mental capacity sure isn't. Excess amounts of protein contribute to Parkinson's Alzheimer's, and other mental related issues. Brain amyloid plaque is formed out of protein, so be sure to drink green tea as I did instinctively when eating a primal diet to protect your neurons.
  • Increased dependance on animal foods - the idea here is not to become dependent on animal foods, but to use them as a therapeutic medicine for a short duration if you insist on going primal or require it for a medical condition (ex: medicinal organ supplements such as adrenals).
  • Some other signs that the primal diet may not be working for you are: weight loss plateaus, tongue coating, constipation, decreased immune function, flatulence, sores, gangrene, leprosy, weight loss/gain, etc. 
Some people may laugh at these recommendations, but should be taken seriously. I've worked with sick life long vegans as well as sick life long carnivores. Don't shun symptoms when they arise. Never take health for granite and always do what works. The rest is up to you. My goal is to simply assist others to the best of my ability, rather than teaching something such as a practice or dogma that will feed a "egotistic superiority" mentality.

Once again, if you are the "meat and potatoes" person,  then I would highly recommend taking lots of enzymes, probiotics, and marinating the meats you eat in raw organic vinegar or lemon juice to minimize free radical damage. If you are doing the primal diet in a therapeutic manner, then proceed by all means and use this information as a prophylactic guide. I personally do not eat red meats any more, rather, I find that wild caught fish (EPA & DHA which are not needed for neural health and not present in plant foods in the amount that the human body requires), raw dairy (fermented is best), and maybe some local hippie hens for eggs will provide more than enough b-12, protein/amino acids, l-carnitine, and other necessary nutrients that are not present in large enough quantities in the vegan diet. Do what works best for your body. Having 100% Italian blood ancestry, I tend to favor raw dairy (goat especially) which is what my ancestors would have eaten. Overtime, if given the necessary tools, our body may even be able to evolve it's ancestral needs. But for now, I feel that raw cheeses, kefirs (which are a purely medicinal food that is said to originate as a "gift from Allah") and raw yogurt (a traditional yogic food) is more than enough to meet my current health needs. If you exercise, or do heavy lifting, dairy should be sufficient, but use your intuition to guide you on what the body actually wants.

As a conclusion for this article, I will leave off with a video from Bernando Lapallo, a true health legend who really knows what he's doing. His diet consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, beans/legumes, chocolate, fish, and meat once a year. He is also an herbalist who has knowledge on the plant medicine as well.

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