Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Paleo Diet Q & A - 2 December 2009

Dear Readers,

Here's today's edition of Paleo Diet Q & A.

Q: I'm a beginner with the Paleo Diet. I want to try it out but I'm a vegetarian (I eat tofu, seitan, tempeh, fish, eggs, and cheese as replacements for meat). I understand I have to leave out the beans, but is it ok to use the rest of the replacements ? Thank you for an answer.

A: The Paleo Diet is based on foods similar to what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate during the paleolithic era 2.6 million year to 10,000 years ago. That translates into 99.6 % of our evolution history. Our genome is perfectly adapted to eat foods similar to what we found during that period of time. This means eating lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The agricultural revolution (10,000 years ago) lead to a dramatic change in human nutrition. Cereal grains, legumes, dairy, vegetable oils, salt, alcohol, and refined sugars comprise 72% of the nutrition in the modern western society. These foods contain harmful substances associated to many "diseases of civilization", such as diabetes, celiac disease and other autoimmune diseases, obesity, hypertension, certain cancers, acne, polycistic ovary syndrome, myopia, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, etc.

Tofu and tempeh are sources of soy bean agglutinin (SBA). SBA has harmful properties because they break cell membranes. This can induce increased intestinal permeability, which is associated to certain autoimmune diseases and low-grade inflammation. SBA has also been shown to stimulate the immune system, something we don't want in an inflammatory disease.

Seitan contains the worst part of wheat namely gluten. Gluten is a prolamine peptide associated to many diseases typical of western civilization, such as celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, ataxia, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

So, if you want to eat a paleolithic diet without eating meat you should ensure a good protein intake using egg powder protein shakes along with some supplements:
  • Vitamin B12 1 mg per day
  • Taurine 1 gram per day
  • Carnosine 800 mg per day
  • Carnitine 400 mg per day

Q: Hi I'm about to have a child, and I don't want to bring it up on a diet of sugar and wheat. Do you have any research for children and the Paleo Diet?

A: No, there aren't any clinical trials for children and The Paleo Diet. However, the current advice for infant nutrition comes from nutritional boards who base their views on:
  1. Western human diet observations.
  2. Randomized controlled trials with single nutrients in a western setting.
  3. Extrapolation of observation in western adults to infants.
This means these recommendations are not based on the evolutionary template, which dictates our metabolic and physiological needs.

For example, recommendations for formula milk composition are the opposite of what research on hunter-gatherer mothers' milk has found. Current recommendations for formula milk state that Linoleic acid content should be high, and saturated fats such as Lauric and Myristic acid should be low. This is the contrary to what we find in mothers on the island of Chole in Tanzania who eat fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and turns out that these people are free of "diseases of civilization".


  1. I have a question: why are nuts a part of the Paleo Diet, but not seeds?

  2. Oh, one more thing: you wrote that current recommendations for formula are that saturated fat should be low. Is that bad? Should saturated fat be lower for adults than babies?

  3. I have a question about the absorbtion of whey and casein proteins and low lactose dairy products like lowfat no-salt cottage cheese. I know about the high insulin markers, but doesn't protein simultaneously trigger a glucagon release that negates a good portion of the insulin spike?

    Thanks, KZ


The Paleo Diet Team invites you to leave comments or post questions to our blog. We receive a great amount of feedback, but we are not able to always answer personally. We read all comments, and we are very interested in hearing your thoughts, learning about your experiences, and understanding what questions you have. Note that we review all comments before publishing them on the blog. Comments posted that do not contain questions or comments related to paleo nutrition, or those that point to web sites that do not provide content that would be deemed helpful to our readers, will be rejected.

Thank you.
The Paleo Diet Team