My take on the Paleo diet. With infographic

The Paleo diet is nothing new (no comments about it having a looooong history please). I first heard of it in my early days as a personal trainer (in an article in Peak Performance if I remember correctly). Its recent resurgence is due to its advocacy amongst ********ers, looking for an extra ounce of energy to enhance WOD statistics - hence the widespread publication of the below, well presented Infographic.

 

I am not sure how I feel about Paleo. I like the rationale that we are yet to genetically adapt (evolve) to be able to handle "domesticated" foods such as grains or dairy, however I think this approach fails to take into account how modern day, industrial farming techniques have rapidly altered just about every foodstuff we eat... at the genetic level.

 

I will give you some examples...

 

I worked as a research scientist doing feeding studies on pigs. These pigs were so selectively bread that they gained about 2lb of body weight... wait for it.... A WEEK! To top it off, the pigs grew at such an efficient rate that almost all the food they ate translated into body weight. This is far from normal in the animal kingdom. These are the new age, ultra-efficient growing pigs that end up chopped up and packaged in the supermarket - with or without the word organic on the label. Farmed pig genetics have changed dramatically since paleo times. Far more than human code evolution... What effect does this have on our digestive tract? No-one knows... yet.

 

Pigs aren't special. The same genetic manipulations have been forced upon cows (high quality steak has "marbling" of fat which is through highly selective breading, feeding and a relatively sedentary lifestyle - deosn't sound like a wild cow that has been roaming the tundra and fleeing predators to me), chickens (eggs too) and even fish.

 

What about fruit and veg? Did you know that apples should not have smooth skin? Again selective cross pollination, growing techniques and the use of "natural" plant hormones in farming have altered the evolutionary path of this (ahem) core  fruitstuff.

 

So making the assumption that domestication of foods has led to us eating things that cause an energy and health sapping immune system overload at the intestinal level must, in my opinion also consider the genetic changes in all of the foods we eat. Perhaps the only true paleos will be those that still hunt and gather... The question then remains, are the Amazon rainforest tribal inhabitants the most viable candidates for elite ******** athletes?... and will they turn up at the ******** games this year? Here's the infographic.

 

Guide to the Paleolithic diet

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CMD

CMD

I feel compelled to respond to this…
I agree with much of what you are saying about how even if you eat a “paleo” diet, in today’s food environment, it is likely to only modestly resemble the true paleolithic diet.
As you note, all plant-based foods (fruits, veg, etc) that are raised for market have been selected for certain characteristics. And many plants have been genetically modified (this is different from selection).

Although I would agree with your assertions about today’s animal-source foods being much different from those of the true paleo times, there are TWO primary reasons for this:
1) As you mention, the genetic selection of animals – the animals are really selected, not genetically modified – has resulted in animals that have the ability to grow faster, and produce more product (meat, fat, milk, eggs, etc) per animal. They have also been selected to be “efficient” growers.
2) Most animal-source foods have a different nutrient composition than they did previously because they are FED differently. The reason that cows have marbling is largely due to what they are fed, not so much a factor of genetics. If your typical genetically selected cow went to pasture instead of a feed lot, you would get very different meat from it – AND this meat would have more omega-3s and less saturated fat due to the type of plants (grass instead of corn) it is eating. The same concept holds true for farm-raised fish versus wild-caught fish because they eat different things. Fish that are farm-raised are fed… CORN (of course), while those that are wild have seaweed at the base of their food-chain. Seaweed is very high in omega-3s.

I welcome comments.

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