If you read my previous article about juicing, you might have guessed that I’m not a big fan of Paleo diet. And that is correct. But recently it seems to be popular to bash Paleo diet such that even international business times and the telegraph all published an article about how bad Paleo diet is based on a single study which I personally believe doesn’t really answer a lot of question. Well, unfortunately your writer here is a science based contrarian and this article will instead be dedicated on giving some reason why I still love my bacon and butter:
1. What the research actually said
First of all, the “latest research” done in Australia (don’t you just love the land from down under that came up with the multifidus story) only involved mice, not humans. Second of all, the mice in the study was force fed 81% fat diet while the control group were only fed 10% fat. Mind you that even if you ate a diet consisting 100% from sausage mcmuffin, you would only be eating 39% fat, less than 1/2 of the rat study and rats don’t normally eat so much fat anyway. So this is definitely something very unnatural. Least we forget that there has been numerous study on Paleo diet on diabetic people, paleo diet on people with certain heart disease, and Paleo diet on healthy individuals. All which gave positive result by the way.
The point I want to take is, never take a conclusion based on a single research, and always have a trusted source (which apparently is hard to find) to translate this research for you. Even the human trials have very limited sample size in very limited setting, hence depending on your genetic make up, Paleo diet might or might not be good for you. In fact, based on a research done in Israel last year, depending on your gene, tomatoes might spike your blood sugar level more than pasta.
2. Why You shouldn’t jump head first into Paleo instead
Wait, so if this latest trend of paleo bashing is not correct, does that mean its ok to go all paleo?
Well, not so fast. As the latest research from University of Chicago has proven, our ancestors actually do eat carbs, including all the way back from 10,000 years ago! And these starches are important for the growth of our brain!
An underlying premise of the Paleo diet is that our human genome has stopped evolving over the past 10,000 years and we are most optimized to function with the diet at the time. These “researchers” then observe the Maasai tribe in Africa and other nomadic tribes around the world before concluding that if you want to be healthy (even if your ancestors are rice eating asian), you should eat like the Massai.
Except that humans do still evolve even to recent times. One study on Eurasians from 6500 to 300 BC with Caucasian farmers has shown multiple genetic mutation for better adaptation to the Caucasian shift to agricultural society. Another study has shown how even our saliva has evolved. Yet another showed another evolution to improve our immune system. Mind you these are just a few of the studies over the past decade that simply debunked the Paleo underlying premise.
3. What I would recommend
As recent article on national geographic based on Professor Stephen Le’s research elegantly put it, you should eat what your ancestor’s ate 500 years ago. Or as the popular saying goes, don’t eat something your grandma would not recognize as “food”.
So, if you have moved to a different country with different climate, have a mixed racial background, or want to be bigger/taller from the previous generation, does that mean you are stuck? Well, I for one always believe that you should experiment, mix and match, and see which works for you. My mentor is 100% British background and he was diagnosed with celiac disease a decade before the gluten free craze, so he eats rice instead. Use caution, see which works for you, and have a trusted expert help you translate the latest craze. I for one love alcohol but having alcohol will quickly bury my 6pack and eating a tonne of rice would not affect my body fat composition. Most of the established science regarding sports medicine diet are correct and well, both Hafthor Bjornsson and Brian Shaw, No. 1 and 2 strongman champion ate a balance source of carbs, fat, protein and fiber.