Thursday, August 4, 2011

Follow-up on Farewell to Paleo, and Comments on Confirmation Bias

Seems that many people did not understand my Farewell to Paleo post.

I wrote that blog after ~14 y of tinkering with paleo principles under the common assumption that we (humans) are fully adapted to a meat-based diet, i.e. that a 'paleodiet' should supply most of its energy and protein from meat and fat.

My experience didn't confirm this belief.  Tracy and I, and many of my clients and students,  had increasing problems with inflammation, accumulation, congestion and stagnation while eating a meat-based diet supplying ~50-60 percent of calories as fat, despite avoiding the dreaded neolithic foods and also eating a large amount of produce.

It seems paleo has for many people become synonomous with meat-based, high-fat nutrition, and so many 'paleo' and 'primal' people are also endorsing and including processed meats (bacon, sausages, etc.) or dairy products (cream, butter, etc.), that it has become little more than a kind of rehashed Atkins.

I regret having contributed to that.

It is to that 'paleo' that I said good bye.

After looking at research ignored by advocates of meat-based and high-fat nutrition, thinking things through, and experimenting a bit, I now have a different understanding of paleo diet.  I leave the details for the follow-up on the Ancestral Health Symposium.

For now, in case you didn't notice, people in the media have already pegged 'paleo' as rehashed Atkins in the 'caveman diet' guise.  If anything will destroy paleo, it is this.

Now, I have also noticed that people in the paleosphere have taken to accusing me of confirmation bias.  I find that very rich indeed.


Confirmation bias means only seeing evidence that supports your beliefs, and not seeing evidence that contradicts your beliefs.




In the paleo- and low-carbo- spheres, confirmation bias looks like this:









  • Only focusing attention on or considering as important those physiological features that make humans different from other primates, and ignoring the many nutrition-related physiological features that humans share with other primates.
  • Only seeing/accepting evidence that meat-eating has benefits, while ignoring, refusing to accept, or denying good evidence that meat-eating can in some quantities and contexts be harmful.
  • Only seeing/accepting evidence that saturated fats are neutral or beneficial, refusing to accept good evidence that excess dietary SFs have harmful effects in certain quantities and contexts.
  • Only seeing/accepting evidence that unsaturated fats are harmful, while ignoring contrary evidence.
  • Only seeing/accepting evidence for the positive effects of cholesterol, while ignoring a mountain of contrary evidence showing adverse effects of excess dietary and serum cholesterol.
  • Only seeeing/accepting evidence that grains and legumes are harmful, refusing to acknowledge evidence that they can be neutral or beneficial.
  • Only seeing/accepting evidence that 'vegetables are useless or unnecessary,' while refusing to acknowledge evidence that they have benefits.
  • Only seeing/accepting evidence of potential harm from eating nuts (e.g. so-called antinutrients), while ignoring or belittling evidence that they provide benefits.
And so on.

I was caught up in that confirmation bias for quite a while.

But as I have increasingly broken away from it, and written blogs discussing evidence contradictory to the popular 'paleodiet' and high-fat/low-carb perspectives, I get attacked for confirmation bias?

It reminds me of the old adage:  When you point a finger at someone else, you have several pointing back at yourself.

As I said in the 'Farewell to Paleo' post, I said farewell after tolerating cognitive dissonance for too many years. 

I forgot to write that I came to meat-based 'paleo' diet after ~14 years eating a primarily vegetarian, grain-based, macrobiotic diet.  That diet, combined with herbal medicine, had provided me with many health benefits, not the least of which being control of my constitutional tendency to respiratory allergies and inflammatory skin conditions (diagnosed as eczema and psoriasis, labels I don't necessarily accept).

As a graduate of the American Academy of Nutrition, and after 14 years as a vegetarian, I could martial plenty of evidence for a vegetarian, low-fat diet.  When I encountered the evidence for meat-based 'paleo' I of course found it was totally contrary to my expectations,  but after serious consideration it appeared strong enough to me that I could no longer ignore it, so I switched from macrobiotic to meat-based, intellectually convinced that the change might improve my health even further than I had gotten with macrobiotics.

I'm not one to try things lightly then dismiss them.  If I think 'paleo' should work, and I find glitches, I will go back to re-evaluate the basics.  If I still think the basic plan is correct, I will try some adjustment within the framework, like decreasing protein and increasing fat, or some other.  I might be stubborn, but I don't give up on what I think is correct until I seem to have exhausted all possible variations, OR I notice that I am ignoring evidence that the basic plan has some important flaw.

When I see evidence contrary to my expectations repeatedly coming to my attention, I can't keep ignoring it, or explaining it away, to satisfy my preconceptions.

In my life, not only me, but people I love were putting into practice the ideas that increasing intake of meat and saturated fat will improve health, and they were suffering:  Gaining body fat, rising blood lipids, congestion, malaise, low energy, etc.

Meanwhile, I could no longer ignore or consider invalid all of the literally thousands of epidemiological, clinical, and animal studies linking modern degenerative diseases to excessive intake of meat and fats, including saturated fats, in modern nations.

Nor could I continue to ignore or belittle all of the hundreds of well-designed studies showing positive health effects of increasing the plant: animal ratio or particular plant components of modern diets.

And that's why I finally said farewell to meat-based, high-fat 'paleo.'   I just couldn't keep ignoring evidence hitting me in the face, contradicting my belief that a diet providing a high proportion of energy from meat and fat  promotes health.

I could no longer accept a flat earth, when the evidence for a sphere hit me in the face.


Which led me to realize, that if the paleo principle is correct, there must be some evidence for strong human adaptation to plant-based diets that the meat-based paleo crowd has either overlooked or ignored.

And I think I have found that evidence.  

Its complicated.  The effect of any nutrient or food on human health depends on quality, quantity, and context of consumption. 

I can no longer allow myself to fall into simplistic thinking like  'meat good, grains bad,' 'fats good, carbs bad,' and such. 

Meat can have benefits in some quantities, qualities, and contexts, and cause harm in other quantities, qualities, and contexts.

Ditto for fats, carbs, grains, everything.

Done with nutritional dualism. 

Everything is relative.

Anything can be medicine or poison, depending on quality, quantity, and context.

83 comments:

Eclecbit said...

I have great respect for your work, and my own experiences mesh with what you've discussed on your blog. I did poorly on a meat based, high saturated fat diet. I stuck with it and tinkered with the details for a couple years, but finally at the suggestion of my Naturopathic Doctor I cut back on my meat consumption and increased my veggie/rice/tuber consumption.

Excessive red meat consumption aggravates my sinuses, and I found it difficult to consume enough paleo type calories to meet my energy requirements. I still avoid gluten, high omega-6 oils, and processed meats, but I'm getting a larger percentage of my calories from non-meat sources. I still do eat meat, just less of it.

I've become a little disillusioned with the paleo community. The hard core paleo/primal blogs are sounding more and more like the hard core vegan blogs with the requisite confirmation bias and ad hominem attacks. Some more moderate bloggers have migrated away from the Paleo label and have introduced other foods back into their diet.

Anyway, I'll continue to follow you blog and look forward to your insights.

john said...

"Anything can be medicine or poison, depending on quality, quantity, and context."

...Then why have a recent post praising carbs and condeming fat in the context of a high-sugar breakfast that neither you nor a "paleo" dieter would eat?

If you think lower meat diets are better, then support that instead of making big reaches by analyzing studies that look solely at macronutrients, usually in the context of "industrial" foods/meals. There are tons of studies showing that "high protein" diets improve markers of metabolic syndrome, but none of the good bloggers talk about them because they're bored of arguing about macros in this type on context.

I'm sorry you had health problems with your higher fat and protein "paleo," but there are many who have great success. I myself know that I need higher protein and fat to handle intense/heavy exercise, despite what granola-heads with 225lb squats think. Your above quote contradicts your usual blanket and somewhat arrogant attitude towards nutrition, which is what turns people off.

Ken Schafer said...

I will be very interested in your future posts on this subject. Your experience with Paleo type diets is completely contrary to mine.
Although I was never 100% Paleo, I lost a significant amount of weight, the results of my blood tests either improved or stayed the same, I generally felt better and had more energy, and I've had no illnesses since adopting Paleo dietary habits. I've also seen very similar results in other people who have gone "Paleo". Needless to say, my experiences lead me to believe that the Paleo diet has a great deal of merit.

nothing91 said...

Don,

"Tracy and I, and many of my clients and students, had increasing problems with inflammation, accumulation, congestion and stagnation while eating a meat-based diet supplying ~50-60 percent of calories as fat, despite avoiding the dreaded neolithic foods and also eating a large amount of produce."

Yet just a few short months ago, you said:

'Meat and Fat Diet Delivers Satisfying Results: I really enjoy hearing from people who have taken classes from me and gotten the awesome results you can get by putting paleo principles into practice.'

Sounds to me like the results of your patients are getting filtered through your bias before being reported.

"Confirmation bias means only seeing evidence that supports your beliefs, and not seeing evidence that contradicts your beliefs."

Yep, and this describes you perfectly. Sorry but it's true.

"...or denying good evidence that meat-eating can in some quantities and contexts be harmful."

Straw man. You'll be hard-pressed to find very many people in the "paleosphere" who deny this. The "some quantities" and "some contexts" stuff only appeared in your blog this week. Before that, it was nothing but "meat is bad; plants are good" for about 2 months straight.

"Only seeing/accepting evidence that unsaturated fats are harmful"

For this to make any sense at all you may want to change "unsaturated" to "Omega 6". But even then you're on thin-ice since some O6 fats are essential, and this is pretty well known.

"...while ignoring a mountain of contrary evidence showing adverse effects of excess dietary and serum cholesterol."

Well, no one "ignores" this "evidence". It has been thoroughly debunked over and over again.

"Only seeing/accepting evidence that 'vegetables are useless or unnecessary,' while refusing to acknowledge evidence that they have benefits."

LOL! Another straw man. Find me a respected Paleo blogger who says that.

"As a graduate of the American Academy of Nutrition, and after 14 years as a vegetarian, I could martial plenty of evidence for a vegetarian, low-fat diet. When I encountered the evidence for meat-based 'paleo' I of course found it was totally contrary to my expectations, but after serious consideration it appeared strong enough to me that I could no longer ignore it, so I switched from macrobiotic to meat-based, intellectually convinced that the change might improve my health even further than I had gotten with macrobiotics."

Here's where you're just flat-out being dishonest. There's no way you would have switched from a vegetarian to meat-based diet if you were sufficiently healthy eating the former. Absolutely no chance. So why not just be forthcoming about the fact that you weren't satisfied eating vegetarian?

Just like you didn't switch from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet 3 months ago for no reason -- you did it because you weren't satisfied with the results. The only difference is you're being honest about the latter change but not the former.

"In my life, not only me, but people I love were putting into practice the ideas that increasing intake of meat and saturated fat will improve health, and they were suffering: Gaining body fat, rising blood lipids, congestion, malaise, low energy, etc."

Wow, things were this bad eh? And it took 14 years to realize?

No chance you're exaggerating, right?

Rob A said...

Appreciate the sentiment, Don, and I agree with john's points too. Seems likely to me that context is key, and it's a good idea to really isolate the variables as best as possible. For you, perhaps, after fourteen years of a meat based diet, a very high plant component can be very nourishing. Maybe less the case for someone already consuming lots of plants and not enough animal foods.

One thing I respect a lot about Matt Stone is his idea of imbalancing and re-balancing with diet. Someone going from vegan to zero carb, or vice versa might see some dramatic improvements in some of their ailments, and might conclude that they've found the answer. But it may not be a final recipe for success, just a provisional one in response to distress.

Anyway, I look forward to the information you may be continuing to share about these blind spots and de-contextualized 'good' or 'bad' pronouncements. And like john, I'll continue to run any conclusions you offer through that same filter. Cheers.

praguestepchild said...

"Everything is relative.

Anything can be medicine or poison, depending on quality, quantity, and context.
"

These kinds of statements drive me up the wall! Like when you tried to equate shamanism with modern physics.

Everything is definitely NOT relative. All paradigms are not equally valid and all ingestible substances are not equal.

The difference between water and arsenic is not just context. The difference between Relativity, Quantum Electrodynamics and shamanism are not just context.

Saying that everything is relative is really just intellectual nihilism. Or an excuse to prop up a paradigm that can't survive on its own merits.

If you've had bad experience on a high-protein/high-fat diet, that's fine, I can respect that. What I don't respect is the every kid gets a trophy approach to science.

Valtsu said...

"...quality, quantity, and context."

That's a very interesting thing. I have noticed that some people are doing very well on OD'ish very-high-fat diets but I and some other people have had very bad success with high fat diet. But there are no many people who know why the bad success... Some people are suggesting that it might be related to endotoxins, or allergies (beef etc).

Alan said...

Don, when you speak of the abundance of evidence
(for this that or the other thing), is where I start to doubt you. There isn't much reliable evidence in the whole universe of human-nutrition-thought. I can't find very many things that everyone agrees on.

Gordon said...

Don, I've followed your blog with great interest since January (gave up gluten and went lacto-paleo). I'm currently reading on 'safe' processed grains -it's cheaper for my family :)
I also believe popular 'Paleo' is teetering between a quasi-Atkins 'fad' and an paleo-informed re-assessment of modern human nutrition.
Dr Cordain's (the instigator) work allows for vegetarian diets with some seafood, similar to what you appear to be gravitating towards.
I'm currently a 'seasonalist'.
Keep up your helpful arguments - backed with solid facts of course.
Much appreciated.

Alex said...

Don,
Thank you for your honesty. My own experience in tinkering with nutrition sounds similar to yours. Over several years of trying to adopt a high-fat, meat based diet, albeit with plenty of vegetables, I keep returning to a diet that is higher in starches and lower in fat. I now try and base my meals around starches and vegetables, using meat more as an accompaniment rather than the main course. I find I feel better, no longer feel sluggish after meals, and have more energy.

Even though we are all the same species, I don't believe that there is a one-size fits all solution for diet and nutrition. The availability of dietary fat for our ancestors varied greatly depending on geographical location and season. Humans have survived and thrived because we are a highly adaptable species. While I disagree that we are adapted to consumption of refined grains, sugars, and oils, there are other sources of calories and food groups beyond what might be considered strictly 'paleo' that can promote optimal health.

I embraced paleo because of its emphasis on food quality and I still believe this to be of utmost importance when considering nutrition.

Don, I have enjoyed reading articles and hope you will continue to share your wisdom.

People can poke holes in your arguments all they want. There is a difference between fact and opinion. Don't feed the trolls!

Kevan said...

@nothing91,

"There's no way you would have switched from a vegetarian to meat-based diet if you were sufficiently healthy eating the former. Absolutely no chance."

Really? Why not?

Why does it seem irrational to you that Don would change his diet in an effort to find even better health? If A is working really well, but B seems like it would work better, why wouldn't he change to B? Just because something is working well doesn't mean that you can't change if something better comes along.

nothing91 said...

Kevan,

Think about the belief systems that typically come along with a vegetarian diet.

Vegeratian diets are very extreme. The beliefs that lead to a person choosing such a diet are also extreme. So a person doesn't change away from a diet like this if it's working "extremely well".

And in Don's case, a person most certainly does not change from a vegetarian diet to a high-fat/meat diet because the vegetarian diet was awesome and worked wonderfully.

Sorry but this is just common sense.

FeelGoodEating said...

FWIW,

Spending a few weeks in amsterdam Holland where I grew up...

People here eat more bread, dairy and processed meat then you can imagine.
I hardly see anyoneone that's overweight. Holland is the tallest nation in the world...longevity is way up there and most are in happy spirit.

There is just SO MUCH at work in regards to nutrition..

I believe after many years that it's still all about common sense, balance and careful observation about what works for you indiviadually..
The one thing I do know for sure...
no one NEEDs processed foods.
Stick to real food..don't eat to m,uch..move your body daily and BE HAPPY and enjoy your experience here.

Marc

Bog said...

"There's no way you would have switched from a vegetarian to meat-based diet if you were sufficiently healthy eating the former. Absolutely no chance."

BS. I myself switched from meat-based diet to 100% vegan after I was told that animal protein causes premature aging. I had no health concerns back then.

Today, I am fruit-fuelled militant vegan.

"Well, no one "'ignores' this 'evidence'. It has been thoroughly debunked over and over again"

LOL....

Jonny Primal said...

Don,

I read your Farewell post with interest and was curiously asking myself "exactly what was this guy eating to make himself and his wife so ill". The only recipes I found are here: http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/search/label/Recipes - to my surprise they include cheap meat, potatoes and sugar-free ketchup. So, you've consumed two types of nightshade (potato/tomato) which contain lectins. In a variety of clinical studies, lectins have been shown to cause damage to gut lining, joints, kidney, pancreas and brain (even able to cross the blood-brain barrier).

Two further points of concern for your health would be
1. buying/consuming 'cheap' meat from Sprouts.
2. Re-cooking food that has already been cooked.

Finally I'd be interested in seeing the ingredients of the ketchup - it may well contain an oil that does not react well to being grilled.

I obviously realise that you were showing people an example of how to eat on a budget, but I would suggest that anyone following these recipes to the letter may well be opening themselves up to various ailments.

Good luck trying your new regimen - although if you're applying the same techniques to a slightly different set of ingredients then I fear you'll be changing you diet ethos again at some point in the future.

Bog said...

"Before that, it was nothing but "meat is bad; plants are good" for about 2 months straight".

Well, let say the "quality, quantity and context" for meat are in disfavour for any Westerner. How many actually have access to wild game? Westerners particularly are in much favourable position with pred. plant-based diets.

Bog said...

"So, you've consumed two types of nightshade (potato/tomato) which contain lectins. In a variety of clinical studies, lectins have been shown to cause damage to gut lining, joints, kidney, pancreas and brain (even able to cross the blood-brain barrier)".

Potato formed a staple for much of Eastern Europe for hundreds of years. The Polish and Russian peasants lived practically with potato alone for two hundred years. In fact the potato regime in these countries ended quite recently. Although, well detailed population studies from the period do not exist, the general health of the rural peasants in these regions was described as excellent. It seemed that only sick were among the nobility that could afford animal products.

Jonny Primal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonny Primal said...

"Potato formed a staple for much of Eastern Europe for hundreds of years. The Polish and Russian peasants lived practically with potato alone for two hundred years."

Has this (and the fact that Russia and Poland are Europe's major potato producers) got anything to do with Russia (and Poland to some degree) having a much lower life expectancy than than western europe? Thanks for helping to back up my statement :-)

Theo said...

Don,

I have heard a lot of people say that the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes of an argument. All of my favorite bloggers right now perfectly illustrate that. They are not dogmatical, they accept new ideas may change their beliefs, etc. The only reason why you are NOT one of my favorite bloggers right now is that you do not seem capable of taking the middle (I would say reasonable) road. For a long time you were hardcore paleo -- high meat and fat, carbs are bad, grains are not meant to be eaten, etc, etc. Now you seem to have completely reversed. Now meat and fat are bad, grains and legumes are great for you, etc, etc. Why so extreme all the time? How did you find enough evidence for paleo (you seem like a pretty evidence based guy) to keep you hooked for that long, but now it's all crap? To be honest, your anti-fat pro plants campaign seems as much like a fad as paleo. It is this that has frustrated me -- not the new ideas, but how have been presented.

That said, I tend to eat a plant based diet and I eat grains. I also eat butter and eggs. I don't understand why we can't just eat real food and stop saying this food is good and that food is bad.

nothing91 said...

Bog,

You have have missed the part where Don said he was hoping the meat-based diet "might improve my health even further".

This is sugar-coated, politician-like speak for "I wasn't sufficiently healthy on my vegetarian diet."

It's really pretty obvious. But if you want to sit there and argue that people make major diet changes when they're doing perfectly fine on their existing diets, go right ahead. :-)

zach said...

While I don't believe increased consumption of saturated fats is responsible for the sick state of the industrial world, I agree with your diagnosis of the meat based paleo community. What I take from reading about nutrition: wonder bread, skittles, and french fries fried in canola oil are bad for everyone. As long as you avoid large amounts of the crap foods and eat natural whole foods, you'll tend to be healthy. People can be metabolically different. One person may do well on a hyperlipid diet. Another could live on potatoes and butter (my personal favorite diet). Human physiology is not so mechanical or uniform as in the sense of a lightbulb or computer. One size doesn't fit all. The perfect diet does not exist.

Kevan said...

@nothing91

"This is sugar-coated, politician-like speak for "I wasn't sufficiently healthy on my vegetarian diet.""

I don't agree with this assessment. This is what Don said in the post:

"but after serious consideration it appeared strong enough to me that I could no longer ignore it, so I switched from macrobiotic to meat-based, intellectually convinced that the change might improve my health even further than I had gotten with macrobiotics."

If you heard about a new nutritional approach that made sense to you based on the body of evidence available, wouldn't you try it? Earlier you said

"The beliefs that lead to a person choosing such a diet are also extreme."

Not really. Most of the vegetarians I know think it will give them better health. That's not a very extreme belief.

The point is that you called Don "flat-out" dishonest, when you yourself are saying that there is "absolutely no chance" that Don did what he claims to have done.
Since you can't prove that, who is being more dishonest?

Bruce said...

I have questions for the paleo-based diet advocates who seem to base their diet on the idea humans did not evolve along with their changing diet. Think all of the generations who survived famines for generations (upon more generations, upon more generations ad nauseum). Did not their diets require adaptation? During droughts, would not the animals (food!) be the first to disappear, while grains survived the longest and provided the sustenance to survive. Under survival pressure, would not those with improved utilization of grains be the most likely to survive. How can you discount this effect? What robust quantitative, empirical evidence do you have to minimize this point to the limit of negligibility. Given how obvious this path of evolution would be, I would say the onus is on the paleos to find clear evidence that >unambigously< settles this debate. Without that, I believe one should admit we are all rather ignorant in our attempts to effectively pigeonhole an >>unbelievably<< non-linear and multi-dimensional problem (with negative and positive feedbacks beyond our knowledge!) like diet optimization into a dietary theory that would allow for substantial improvement over today's range of diets typically found in most cultures. Good luck with that - I don't know that it can be done. Surprise us with the wondrous results! ;-)

Alan said...

>>>questions for the paleo-based diet advocates who seem to base their diet on the idea humans did not evolve along with their changing diet.

respectfully request that you show us evidences(s) of an evolutionary change that has occurred in homo sapiens sapiens in the past 15,000 years (the "dawn of agriculture"). Just show us one?



>>> During droughts, would not the animals (food!) be the first to disappear, while grains survived the longest and provided the sustenance to survive.

Have you ever experienced a drought? Have you ever farmed, or even lived next a real working farm? Or been in an actual feed store? Or sold crop insurance to a real farmer?
Or even dated a real farmer's daughter?




>>Under survival pressure, would not those with improved utilization of grains be the most likely to survive.

if you can show me a domesticated grain which is hardier or more drought-resistant than the weeds which compete with it, I'll give you $1000 cold hard cash.

Rob A said...

Alan,

You can see Melisssa Mcewen's review of 'The 10,000 Year Explosion' here, in which she covers several of the evolutionary changes documented by the authors that humans have undergone since the dawn of civilization:

huntgatherlove.com/content/ 10000-year-explosion

nothing91 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nothing91 said...

Kevan,

"If you heard about a new nutritional approach that made sense to you based on the body of evidence available, wouldn't you try it?"

This is the same "body of evidence" which Don now claims is completely wrong. He says that confirmation bias is what bamboozled him into believing it in the first place.

So, for your and Don's version of this story to be correct, we have to believe two things:

1) Don's old vegetarian diet was perfectly adequate. He was sufficiently healthy on this diet in every way.

2) Despite #1, Don started researching high meat/fat diets for some reason (must have been bored one day) and -- despite the evidence for the positive affects of these diets being nonsense -- Don was bamboozled by confirmation bias and decided to completely change his diet for 15 years.

We'll just have to agree to disagree if you think this is the true story.

"The point is that you called Don 'flat-out' dishonest, when you yourself are saying that there is 'absolutely no chance' that Don did what he claims to have done.
Since you can't prove that, who is being more dishonest?"

I know baloney when I see it. Don's bias is as strong as ever. He thinks he's unbiased because he changed his mind about which kind of diet is best. He thinks that this change of opinion proves he's objective. But is just isn't so. As another commenter pointed out, he's the king of extremes.

Bruce said...

Alan - You asked me to provide evidence when I am not even promoting a theory. If you make claims about a theory, it should be a hypothesis that is supported to the substantial detriment of other competing hypotheses. The burden is on you. It is my easily-exercised right (and perhaps duty) to ask questions when someone claims their hypothesis is robust enough to negate competing hypotheses.

As for your question of drought-hardy weeds, let me start by saying that any answer to the question does not negate the import of my question (IMO). Still, I will respond. During droughts, hardier grains would have survived longer than non-hardy grains (by definition), regardless if weeds finally outlasted them at the grim end. Until they died out (if they did), the hardiest grains could have provided more energy (and perhaps even other nutrients) than hardy weeds. If the hardiest of grains eventually died as well, that does not weaken my point. My point is that a good source of critical energy from grains might have been available when the *animal* source was gone. Weeds would not likely have done as much for those who were in a calorie deficit as grains would have. The survival pressure would have encouraged adaptability to grains. I doubt paleo man survived better by eating Cogon grass at the latest stages of a food shortage, no matter how well the weed survived.

As for questioning my personal experience with farming, c'mon. You should be able to look back and see the irrelevance and silliness of the question. How does my discussing alternatives (read: weaknesses) to a theory about evolution of diet require that I engaged in farming or agribusiness activity or at least dated a farmer's daughter?

Still, I deign to answer the question to make a point. I did date a farmer's daughter from Pennsylvania. Quickly, though, religion got in the way and we broke up. That brings me to my point about your irrelevant farming challenge.

Religions have a funny way of closing people's minds (or is that order backwards - do closed minds seek religion?). Take for example a religion about a diet. It seems you are treating the paleo diet as a religion. After all, in response to evolution-related questions, you just asked me if I ever sold farm insurance. It seems you were getting pretty defensive by that point (and off-topic). If the paleo diet is NOT a religion for you (and it is probably not), please don't let my questions get to you so much.

If I had engaged in farming or even a nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle on the East African savannah, that would not improve (or degrade) the validity of the questions I posed. So, the questions I posed essentially remain unanswered even though you did quite a lot writing.

When the credibility of a theory is called into question, one is not necessarily questioning your personal integrity or judgement even if you support that theory. As you remember that, perhaps you could either directly provide strong evidence that supports your theory, or admit you really don't have strong evidence and thus only a weakly-supported hypothesis.

Respectfully, Bruce

Alex said...

"...despite avoiding the dreaded neolithic foods and also eating a large amount of produce."

All current fruit and produce are "dreaded neolithic" foods, only possible through mutation due to agriculture within the last 10,000 years. If you are going to contradict yourself in your own justifying argument, maybe you shouldn't do it within the same sentence fragment.

I love it when people blame meat for their digestive problems while admittedly consuming "a large amount" of admittedly "dreaded" food.

Alan said...

Bruce,

if you ==had== ever farmed, you would know that "drought" doesn't mean water becomes non-existent; it means it has become availabe at a very reduced number of locations, with lots of lifeforms competing - sometimes with tooth and claw - to be the one to stick their tongues into it..

In the paleolithic (according to my understanding of the word, at least for our diet purposes), there were neither crops nor nomadic-herd-pastoralism nor livestock (which I will define here as domesticated meat animals who live within man-made boundaries like fences, hedges, etc - or even quasi-confined such as by sheepdogs).

Now, let the rains become scarce, and lets see what happens.

Prey animals have legs, and can still roam around to find working watering holes.

Plants don't have legs; they die quickly, right where they are. The ground becomes baked; digging up cassava or potatos or suchlike tubers becomes extra difficult.

Some of us, to this day, still hunt. We who do, know that among the best places to ambush our prey is at.... a watering hole.

Bruce, I stand mute in the face of your challenge to produce strong evidence for my "new" paradigm..... because I don't believe that your opposite theory is in any way shown to be an accepted conventional wisdom. Unless you are Archer-Daniels-Midland. Or General Mills. Or any of these other folks who have a financial interest in convincing folks that eating grains is an optimal strategy for an individual.

If your goal is merely to ensure that the largest possible number of homo sapiens sapiens individuals live long enough to pass on their genes at age 12-14.... then you would endorse grain agriculture.

Telstar said...

Don: Thanks for the article, but I'm surprised by your statement:

"...I came to meat-based 'paleo' diet after ~14 years eating a primarily vegetarian, grain-based, macrobiotic diet. That diet, combined with herbal medicine, had provided me with many health benefits..."

You've often written/spoken about numerous health issues you experienced while on that diet. For example:
Archived "Healthy Omnivore" article

What will you be doing differently in future to prevent such issues, now that you no longer believe Paleo is the solution?

Thanks!

nothing91 said...

Telstar,

Wow, great find! Incredible. Clearly shows Don's revisionist history.

Bog/Kevan: I rest my case.

Valtsu said...

BTW Don, could it be possible that one reason you are having problems with red meat is that you have possibly some kind of an allergic reaction to meat? According to studies Matt Metzgar mentioned in his blog, beef allergy is very common in some areas.

http://www.mattmetzgar.com/matt_metzgar/2010/11/beef-allergy.html

http://www.mattmetzgar.com/matt_metzgar/2010/12/beef-allergy-ii.html

http://www.mattmetzgar.com/matt_metzgar/2011/03/beef-beatdown.html

He also felt better when he tried excluding beef for some time. But he hadn't done any testing so we don't know if he usually has an immune response to beef.

STG said...

There is too much drama around food and diets! The fact that Don found that a paleo-type diet didn't support his health is a good enough reason to change--no explanation needed. In fact, I think Don's self-experimentation and willingness to drop his dietary program shows solid critical thinking and a lack of dogma. My experience with a high-complex carb, low fat diet is the
different than Don's: it made my health worse! The optimal diet is the one that fits our unique individual biochemistry and that requires self-experimentation and a open mind.

Don said...

NOthing91,

You wrote:

"You have have missed the part where Don said he was hoping the meat-based diet "might improve my health even further".

This is sugar-coated, politician-like speak for "I wasn't sufficiently healthy on my vegetarian diet."

---------

So where exactly did I 'lie'? You just pointed to the part where I was in fact saying honestly that I was seeking even more improvement. That doesn't mean I didn't have improvements eating a vegetarian diet. I did have improvements, and some problems that I tried to fix in the context of eating a nearly vegetarian diet.

Plus, it was my part of my general interest and PROFESSIONAL interest to stay up on developments in nutrition science. I first read Paleolithic Prescription about 5 years into eating a vegetarian diet I was impressed, but not convinced to eat meat, because at that point, the benefits of the vegetarian approach outweighed the challenges by far. It was ten years before I was 'convinced enough' that the evidence for meat-eating was good enough, and that the evidence against meat-eating, cholesterol, fat, etc. might actually be erroneous, to decide to switch to a meat-based diet and test myself.

It might be crazy to you, but throughout the years I ate a meat-based diet, I stayed subscribed to McDougall's Vegan newsletter precisely because I wanted to hear the other side of the story, to keep that perspective close at hand. I kept buying books by vegan advocates and by meat-based advocates. Why? Uh, I was teaching nutrition at a small school, it was my job to stay informed.

Tracy said...

I just finished a long comment and somehow lost it when I went to publish it, so I will attempt another, perhaps shorter one. I decided to chime in and share my experience to shed light on Don's recent contraversial posts.

Firts, I want to thank the many supporters of Don's work. For those that know him, all agree that he is an incredibly thoughtful, thorough, dedicated, and passionate person, committed to doing his best to seek out a clearer understanding about human nutrition, esp. from an evolutionary context.

We had similar experiences to many bloggers who had to modify their 'paleo'diet to improve results. Like Eclebit, we began to have nausea from too much fat combined with the excess protein. I gained weight and fat composition, and began to feel sluggish, tired, and constipated. Yuk..who wants to feel like that?

The big trigger was the fibrocystic breast lumps that were forming, causing extreme tenderness. My mom who followed my advice to eat more red meat and saturated fat had a health scare, with her blood pressure becoming very elevated, and gaining a lot of excess weight herself.

Tracy said...

Many of Don's students also saw immediate results from being paleo, that stalled, and then turned in directions similar to my own experiences with endocrine system imbalances, mood changes, and more. Many of us are women.

Who wouldn't act out like a mother bear defending her cubs when she feels they are threatened when a loved one is experiencing signs that he especially knows are precursurs to much worse problems?

To Johnny who commented on our eating cheap foods being the problem, yes, to an extent I agree. But it certainly wasn't the ketchup! We did paleo on a budget to show people they can still eat a healthier 'paleo' type diet on the amt. they get from food stamps. That is about $6 per person per day! Not much!! So, we were eating far more affordable cuts of pork, fattier meats, mostly bought at Sunflower which offers a better than usual qualtiy, but by no means grass-fed.

The ketchup was a simple condiment used to flavor and cook with. It is a locally made chipotle sugar-free awesome ketchup. We were not chugging this down by the bottle getting sick. Tho it tastes that good you could.

What inspired us to do that? Like many Americans, we had to scale down and simplify. We faced a challenging time between the two of us economically. Much owed in student loans that we suddenly could afford, not to mention rent for 2 separate apts and a clinic. So, once the freezer full of GF meat and wild salmon broke, and Don lost a huge investment of quality food, we had to give up our GF habits for awhile. When life hands you lemons...we made our version of paleo-aid.

Theo accused Don of being extreme. Well, I know he feels he is very moderate, and I will be honest here. Don is in a way both. He is extreme because of his devotion. He tried every version and formula for each diet he followed to the 'T' so that he could honestly assess if it worked. Afterall, how would he know if he didn't?

I am not nearly the disciplined and devoted soul that he just is. But it is from the best place in his heart, and a respect he has for all those he was following.

Theo, if you knew what we were eating now, I believe you would both enjoy it, and see that it very muvh is moderate among the paleo crowd. I think someone wrote that we need to just eat, and quit fussing over what is good vs bad, with the basic understanding of what really IS bad, i.e., the refing and additives, trans fats, rancid oils, the ubiquitous high fructose corn syrups and artificial sweetners, people guzzling slurppies and cokes keeping those companies in business, fast foods, etc.

Tracy said...

People aren't ending up in the hospital for over eating fruits, beans, or whole grains. Remember the whole grain explosion is still new..Americans until recently didn't even know what a whole grain was. A whole grain is better than all the refined and processed stuff out there, and can still be either enjoyed or avoided according to one's tolerance.

Plus. what is paleo? At the AHS, many presenters showed tribes to this day eating anywhere from a 45% to even 70%+ total dietary consumption of carbs, esp. tubers and fruits without our diseases.

Studies are being done to test 'paleo' diet and its effects on kidney disease using a 45% carb diet. Some of that is in the form of carrot juice, 4 glasses per day, and honey, all while eating 6 meals per day. This is a study being done Dr. Linda Frasseto, one of the presenters. They wanted a far higher ratio of potassium to sodium. Makes sense. How do we get that? You can do it eating sweet potatoes, veggies and fruits. Why 4 glasses of carrot juice?

Nonetheless, she is calling that diet paleo. Clearly there is a broad notion of what is paleo.

When Don speaks of quality, quantity, and context, he is offering a lens that is seeing things from a unique and enlighteing perspective. Again, if you were there and heard him, you would understand what all ways he is applying that.

One example is this romantic notion that we are meant to eat high meat diets because hunters killed animals. Well, first, women gathered. People survived on what all else was available beyond the hunt. Second, it is a massive assumption that our diet was composed primarily of meat, discounting the gathering part of the equation all together. Even Stanford has written how chimps, and early humans ate fruits, flowers, greens, and had rock tools to break into nuts. And yes, they even ate those feared legumes.

But most important, their lifestyles were far more physical. Survival was physical. They weren't pulling up to the nearest fast food chain for a burger at the drive-thru, or GF meat at the nearest farmers market. So, context, they were operating from a caloric deficit, not excess. That is a big difference. And the quality was far different. Wild meat is gamey, and bitter and very lean. But that is just one ex. of the entire perspective. For more, you will have to watch the video from the conference, or read our upcoming book. Some of you will clearly not need it as you have it all figured out, your life is mistake free, and you are poised and ready to attack and challenge others on their path. For the rest, it will be a great resource that offers information on much more than diet, and will give a perspective that anyone can apply to their needs, paleo or otherwise.

Don said...

A predominantly vegan diet helped me improve my health significantly, but as I pointed out in the Healthy Omnivore article, going too low in fat, calories, and animal products also had undesireable results. At the time, I couldn't find a way within the vegetarian paradigm to retain the benefits and remedy the fatigue, etc. that arose from basically a diet too low in energy and a few nutrients for me. So once I got enough info on paleo diet to think that a meat-based diet rich in produce might enable me to retain the benefits of a plant-based diet while eliminating the weaknesses of the vegetarian diet, I put my heart and soul into testing the paleo diet in multiple variations. It had some positive effects, but over time, the excess of meat and fat brought back the problems that I had reversed by eating the vegetarian diet. So, I learned that eating a predominantly vegan diet doesn't work well, nor does a meat-based diet work well, for me.

I trusted Cordain, Eades, and other authorities who claim humans are well adapted to a meat-based diet. I put that idea into practice and found it initially helped me, coming from a mostly vegetarian diet, but over time, it produced adverse results. I saw it work for some and not for others, and I started to get an idea of why and when it works for some and not for others, why it may work for awhile and then backfire, and finally to question the basic assumption that we are well adapted as a species to a meat-based, higher fat diet.

Currently, this assumption defines 'paleo' for many people, but my experience didn't support it, and so I questioned it and looked for answers outside the echo-chamber of the current paleo community. I then noticed that not all anthropologists agree with this assumption, and I found evidence that points in the other direction, that we are adapted to a plant-BASED (not vegetarian), but not necessarily to a grain-based diet.

As I discussed in my presentation at the AHS, some of the biochemical and physiological characteristics that we share with other primates, that make us adapted to plant-rich diets, make us maladapted to diets too high in meat and fat. This maladaption shows up in different people different ways, it shows up in health differences between groups like the Inuit or Masai on one hand and groups like the Kitavans on the other.

My path is an evolution, just like everyone else's. It is a learning process, largely by trial and error. I make lots of mistakes, its part of the process of learning. Who doesn't? Its part of our own human evolution.

Sue said...

Thanks Tracy and Don for more insight into your dietary change.
Perhaps a person does well on lots of meat and fat when nutritionally deficient and once health is improved they need to scale back? Chris Masterjohn talked about going on a low protein vegan diet for a couple of weeks which got rid of his warts on hands.

nothing91 said...

Don,

"So where exactly did I 'lie'? You just pointed to the part where I was in fact saying honestly that I was seeking even more improvement. That doesn't mean I didn't have improvements eating a vegetarian diet. I did have improvements, and some problems that I tried to fix in the context of eating a nearly vegetarian diet."

I actually didn't use the term 'lie', but now that the Healthy Omnivore article has been exposed, I think it's pretty clear that lying is indeed pretty much what you're doing; namely, lying by omission.

Nowhere in this blog post did you mention or give any indication of your vegetarian diet being anything other than healthy & wonderful. But we now know that this is far from the truth. And I can't help but think that had it not been for someone finding the Healthy Omnivore article, you would have continued to deny/downplay the issues you had on this diet.

This is dishonesty by omission. People who are truly as unbiased and open-minded as you claim to be don't operate this way. And it's all the more ironic that you were caught doing it in a post about confirmation bias.

Don said...

nothing91,

I am quite curious about your fixation with my dietary evolution.

First, is it so hard for you to understand that when someone has a particularly troubling condition, that they will try what they can to resolve it? If what they are doing is showing improvements in the condition, other issues may at least temporarily take a back seat to the importance of healing the chronic condition. And if those things resurge, the reverse.

I have simply been looking for the 'sweet spot', where the elements seem to come together to create an ideal balance. It is a process of trial and error that takes time, as most people who are searching for answers to health via dietary changes know. To know the effects of a diet requires some 'extreme' committment, because it takes time for symptoms to clear and manifest.

I would have never discovered that a very low fat vegetarian diet could act as medicine for my allergies and skin issues unless I had faithfully followed a vegetarian diet for a long enough time. I also would not have discovered the drawbacks of a vegetarian diet if I had been 'sort of' vegetarian. Similarly, I would not have discovered the drawbacks of a 'paleo' diet supplying a high proportion of its calories from meat if I had been only 'sort of' paleo.I'm not doing or advocating or saying that humans are adapted to a grain-based, very low-fat, VEGETARIAN diet.

Don said...

What on earth would I be doing spending so much energy attempting to seek out the truth, putting my thoughts and experiences out in the public, at the cost of being attacked by people like you, who apparently never say or do anything that could be interpreted by someone as bias, just to be dishonest about my condition or effects from various diets?

And anyway, why do I have to spell out every detail, every time I am attempting to give my background in a nutshell so people can understand the basic jist of my recent process?

Don said...

I did my best and fully committed no matter which diet I followed to truly test its effects as being laid out by the resources I had. I also did my best in this and each of my posts to lay out what were my direct experiences. I wasn't intentionally omitting details to slant the evidence, or anyone's beliefs.

Is there nothing in your life where you are faced with choices of one thing over another at a cost of some sort? Or are things just smooth and straight forward in all areas of your life? No questions of which choice is the better, or even least discomforting?

If what you do works for you, then follow your own experience. If you have such issue with what I have going on here, why waste your precious life force reading my blog? What is it about what I offer that makes you value spending your life force trying to discount me or point out every weakness? Plenty of others out there who probably have more agreeable view points for you to align with.

Don said...

The Omnivore article was about why I rejected a VEGETARIAN diet. It should be obvious I had not completely rejected a plant-based diet since the website was to promote my book, which has the subtitle "A Produce Dominated Diet," and argues for a 'paleo' diet with the fruits and vegetables, including tubers, providing the greatest proportion of the diet by volume and weight, though not by energy.

Since in that article I was explaining why I STOPPED being a VEGETARIAN, I didn't mention in it why I stuck with the vegetarian approach for ~14 years, despite difficulties with it: because it controlled those allergies and skin conditions. So I guess that one also suffered from 'bias.' But to me, in the context of and article focused on explaining why I gave up meat-free eating, on a website promoting a book in which I advocated a produce-dominated omnivorous diet, it did not seem important to explain the benefits of eating a plant-based omnivorous diet. That part was provided by the context.

Just so, since part of this particular blog post was focused on explaining the significant benefits I had received from a plant-based diet, it did not seem immediately important to go into detail about the problems I experienced with VEGETARIAN application of a plant-based diet.

Perhaps if you ever had major allergies, or horribly uncomfortable and embarrassing skin conditions, you would understand why I would do just about anything to heal it, and have extreme sense of caution toward adding back any foods that I had good reason to believe might re-trigger it.

Don said...

The major draw backs with a low fat vegetarian diet were getting my caloric needs met, and experiencing certain discomforts most likely associated with excess grain.

When people are interpreting their own or other's experiences, they, including I, often get distracted by labels like 'vegetarian' or 'paleo,' not realizing that there are many ways to eat 'vegetarian,' like with or without supplements, with high or low fat, with lots of protein or little, with lots of produce or not, with lots of nuts or seeds or not, high or low grain intake, etc., etc. Maybe some of you have never made these mistakes. I have, and I put them on display here, for all of you to attack as you wish. Good for you. As I said, if what I have to offer is so useless, biased and so on, go somewhere else.

To answer Telstar, then, simply, the problems outlined in that article were due to difficulty meeting my caloric needs and needs for some nutrients when consuming a GRAIN-based, very low-fat (~15% of calories or less), VEGETARIAN diet.

I'm not doing or advocating or saying that humans are adapted to a grain-based, very low-fat, VEGETARIAN diet. I am practicing a PLANT-based omnivorous diet with a higher amount of plant fats. This allows me to avoid the drawbacks of a VEGETARIAN low-fat diet.

Ever since I got multiple benefits from adopting a plant-based diet in the 1980s, I have eaten a diet that is plant-based either by volume or calories, EXCEPT during the more recent couple of years when I experimented with meat-only and very low carb diets and got poor results which I have previously mentioned in this blog. My book as I said argues for a 'produce-dominated' approach to paleodiet, which in the book meant getting the greatest volume of your food from fruits and vegetables.

I doubt this will satisfy any of the critics. So be it. This is my day off. I do my best, I don't always say things the way the critics think I should say them to 'prove' my objectivity and lack of confirmation bias to their satisfaction. Supposedly I am more biased than anyone else; apparently everyone else devotes equal time to presenting examples of people who succeed and people who fail with their favored approach.

Sue,

I agree with you. That's exactly what I am getting at. Meat is medicine for certain deficiencies, but long-term excess can cause problems. On the other hand, a vegan diet can be medicine for certain excesses, like Masterjohn's warts. The same for me: Vegetarianism was medicine for excesses that I accumulated in the ~20 years before I started eating a vegetarian diet, but keeping to it for too long, I developed deficiencies. Then, reintroducing meat was medicine for those deficiencies, but long-term adherance to a high-meat high-cholesterol diet created problems of excess again. This is what I mean by quality, quantity, context. My experiences and observations led to this...This is what I have come to as a result of my 'bias.'

But apparently I am behind the curve and should have realized this a long time ago, since apparently it was obvious to everyone else, all my critics, all along.

Bruce said...

Alan,

Thank you for your response. It meant a lot more to me than the previous one. The whole reason behind my challenges are that I have trouble putting faith in the idea that an obligate omnivore could not adapt to grains, especially given that nutritional sources could vary for different populations at different times. On the other hand, I have much less blind confidence in that supposition based on your response.

Thank you,

Bruce

p.s. - Regardless of that, this whole thread still seems lit up with drama and resentment - perhaps I even contributed some. I hope the people here can tone it down to make it more enjoyable.

JasonB said...

Everyone here keeps harping on this issue as being solely diet related. The further along that I go with this interest in nutrition and health the more convinced I am that nutrition is a small part of the whole.
If I had to throw numbers at the wall, total health would be quantified as: 40% well thought exercise (Sisson-esque), 10% macrobiotic ratios, 25% food quality, 10% microbiotic ratios, 10% natural exposure (to encompass sunlight, clean air, peace of mind from nature, etc.) and 5% minor details individual to each person.
This completely arbitrary breakdown is based on the fact that improved health can be reached via any dietary regime. Food quality ranks second for me because exercise can only take you so far (my stepping-stone to paleo); removing processed food simply because it provides X carbs, Y fat and Z protein, and replacing that with any ratio of high quality, real foods is another huge step in the right direction. From there on out each person should self-experiment to decide what works the best for them. For some people a high fat diet works best, for others a high carb diet might work best, still others may find a 33/33/33 diet is optimal, maybe you follow Peter's advice and eat gobs of meat with greens for coloring.
SO, continue with your work as you feel fit to Don. I tend to agree with the one other commenter that your approach is rather antagonistic to your previous audience, but then again we are all only seeking to hear agreement rather than discord.

Don, would you please address something from the Gladiator post that has bothered me. You made the comment that these Gladiators were in excellent physical condition despite what traditional paleo would consider a poor diet. As part of that argument you seemed to state that Gluten wasn't bad for you because these guys were in good shape. I'm operating within the belief that Gluten and WGA is bad for you from a longevity standpoint. To me, your argument falls apart with that point because Gladiators generally did not live long enough to experience the serious negative health effects. At worst they would have experienced some acute bowel disfunction, but not the auto-immune diseases that we're associating with gluten and WGA.

Thanks.

Don said...

Jason,

I agree with the gist of your post but would not put exercise at 40%. I would put emotional and stress factors ahead of exercise in influence. For example, acute myocardial infarction occurs at a very high incidence in war-torn countries....it has little to do with and obscures the effect of diet. Even people on good diets can have cardiac arrest if they see everything around them, especially people they love, being destroyed. Only in low stress conditions can we uncover the effects of diet alone. That's all part of the CONTEXT to which I am referring.

Re gluten and gladiators, barley contains gluten but nowhere near as much as wheat. True, gladiators didn't live long, but people in modern nations develop gluten-related auto-immune conditions early in life, like type 1 diabetes and psoriasis. I don't know if gladiators had any of those conditions. I was only making an off-hand remark that the gluten content of barley didn't appear to have a huge impact on physical fitness and performance of the gladiators. I certainly am not advocating gluten-rich diets.

Which makes me want to emphasize again, if I point out that some research shows vegetarian diets having some beneficial effects, this doesn't mean I am recommending a vegetarian diet. I am only saying we can't ignore this research, if we really want to understand human nutrition, we have to take that as a data point, and find a way to make sense of it. If humans do well in some respects on some variations of vegetarian diets, this tells us something about human physiology and its adaptations.

malpaz said...

"eating a predominantly vegan diet doesn't work well, nor does a meat-based diet work well"

oh, if everyone just found their own balance with self experimentation where would all the debate come from?!?! ha, seriously though, when you initially switched you're blogging view i was confused until i went back and read old posts from you where-in you have hinted the entire time that maybe the meat fat based diet wasn't optimal.

the more i read and experiment with myself(which i think is key, figure your own body out and ignore all hype) the more i find a meat based diet is actually incredibly detrimental for me. my only line of reasoning however is that i don't handle the meat sold at the grocery store well at all. literally, i have all kinds of body problems inside and outside when getting my protein from grocery store meat(and it is USDA Angus beef, the pricier stuff, no hormone chicken and pork etc). maybe that is the ultimate difference. i get a lot of free game(deer, pheasant) and fish(trout, snapper, flounder) from work from the guys who hunt/fish. i handle that fine.

one other thing i have learned, about myself personally, is i do not handle a lot of fiber well. it causes me shortness of breath notably, bloating/digestive issues, sweats and most annoyingly a lot of acne problems. the breathing problems associated with the fiber though are what turned me off and scare me the most.

i think obvious NAD's should be avoided and processed meat but it hink it should be expanded as i dont think grocery store or even fresh butcher meat is good- in my experience, plenty will debate that too!

nothing91 said...

Don,

"I am quite curious about your fixation with my dietary evolution."

You can try to re-focus the attention on me if you'd like. But the fact is, sometimes it takes someone like me (who reads carefully and remembers what a person said 2 months ago) to point out baloney.

"First, is it so hard for you to understand that when someone has a particularly troubling condition, that they will try what they can to resolve it?"
...
"What on earth would I be doing spending so much energy attempting to seek out the truth, putting my thoughts and experiences out in the public, at the cost of being attacked by people like you, who apparently never say or do anything that could be interpreted by someone as bias, just to be dishonest about my condition or effects from various diets?"

There's a lot of straw man mixed in here but I'll do what I can with it.

I have never said nor implied that you are somehow wrong for experimenting with different diets and reporting your results, nor for striving for optimum health. This would be ridiculous. My issues with you are, in no particular order:

1) Acting like the diet which is best for you is necessarily best for everyone else.
2) Major bias in favor of whatever beliefs you have at any given time.
3) A hyper-focus on evidence which supports aforementioned beliefs, while ignoring other evidence. (Confirmation bias.)
4) Revisionist history regarding your prior diets and their results.
5) Tendency to set up straw men when encountering different opinions.
6) A know-it-all writing style which indicates that you think you are authoritative on these very complex, intricate, and subtle matters.

So please, enough with the accusations that I don't think a person should follow their own experience, or make their own choices, etc. It's a blatant falsification of my position.

Regarding your comments on the Omnivore article -- again you're arguing against a straw man. So much so that I really don't even know what you're talking about. Your book, for example, has nothing to do with what I'm saying.

You heavily sugar-coated the results of your 14-year vegetarian diet in this blog post, implying that you were perfectly healthy on it and only changed to a meat-based diet due to overwhelming evidence. Since, as you point out, the old diet isn't the same as the one you're advocating now, it's bizarre that you wouldn't be honest about it. But you clearly weren't, and bias is the only conceivable explanation. Which is why I took issue with it.

Valtsu said...

Chris' experience with vegan diet is very interesting. Paul Jaminet has also written a few times about autophagy. Orthodox Church also seems to recommend protein avoidance twice a week.

When I tried to find out what kind of experiences people have with betaine HCl supplement, I noticed that on zero-carb forum some people reported quite remarkable health improvements with betaine HCl (I copypasted most of those experiences on the finnish LC forum http://tinyurl.com/3bcjtoj and http://tinyurl.com/3vf7lsc ).

I can also recall that someone at acne.org had avoided protein because it caused acne and HCl supplementation (betaine form) made the situation better... Actually I found it, post #10 here http://tinyurl.com/42ywll4

OK I think some anecdotes are not very good evidence but at least some food for thought, maybe... Hypochlorhydria might be more or less important factor that makes people more susceptible to protein.

Rob A said...

Don,

Thanks again for sharing. Lots of folks from AHS have described you as balanced and thoughtful and receptive of feedback about your new diet and promotion of it. Right on.

You and Tracy both mentioned stories of folks who thrive initially on a high fat lowish carb paleo plan, only to stall and then backtrack, sometimes with new problems emerging. One going hypothesis that makes sense to me is something I've linked to before, Matt Stone's notion of a 'Catecholamine Honeymoon,' in which the rise in adrenal hormones as a result of carbohydrate restriction, sometimes accompanied with other diet and lifestyle changes, initiates a hormonal path that leads to things like lean-sparing weight loss, reduction in allergies and asthma, alertness and reduced need for sleep, improved biomarkers, etc. However, the stall and then back track that emerges comes from a shut down in receptors sites for these catecholamines, and/or from a reduction in output after the prolonged 'honeymoon.'

One bit of supporting evidence is that the patients in Ancel Keys Starvation study, after initial 'improvements' like fat loss, lowering of blood pressure, etc. from calorie reduction, eventually ran into health problems and became, among other things, non-responsive to the affects of adrenalin, even when injected subcutaneously. That is, the honeymoon ended and doing more of the same failed to provide sustained benefits, and even initiated costs.

Curious whether this hypothesis makes sense to you and if you have any thoughts about it. Seems like it might offer a targeted explanation for the folks you refer to.

JasonB said...

Thanks for the follow-up and clarification Don.

Have you ever thought of the seasonal response to complete health? As you mentioned many people see initial benefits from starting a high-fat Paleo, just as many people see initial results with a low fat paleo, or with nearly every other macronutrient restricting diet. Also, considering Autophagy and ketosis, there's probably a circuitous maximal benefit window that eventually tapers with each "type" of diet.

I probably didn't originally come off as appreciating your site in its current interpretation, but I'd like to assure you that I do sincerely respect the different viewpoint you offer from traditional Paleo. Keep it up, I (and others) may not always agree, but it's not like you're telling us to eat twinkies!

Kevan said...

@nothing91

Don said "If you have such issue with what I have going on here, why waste your precious life force reading my blog?"

I would like to know your answer. What is the point to all of your nitpicking? I don't understand what you are trying to accomplish, other than being argumentative and calling everything a straw man.

nothing91 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nothing91 said...

Kevan,

I guess you're done arguing with me about Don's vegetarian diet now that the Omnivore article has been exposed. Shocking. :-)

Surely you're not suggesting that people should only read blogs that they agree with 100% of the time?

BTW, you have quite a definition of 'nitpicking'. I never thought that pointing out a person is describing the results of a past diet the complete opposite way now than they did a few years ago would be considered nitpicking. Amazing. :-)

Kevan said...

Don has already clarified the article in question in the previous comments, I don't really see the need to argue it any further; not really that shocking, is it ;)

You don't have to agree with Don, but again I ask, what is your point? That Don is lying to all of us? What purpose would that serve? Are you even reading his follow up comments? I think he is laying out some pretty reasonable arguments for the doubters, but still you attack. So again, what's the point? What do you want him to do, write a retraction, apologize, send you a cookie? What do you want?

I also find it humorous that your 6th beef is a "know it all writing style". It's a bit ironic, given that Don's first post was all about how he believes he was wrong all this time. You post like you know what you are talking about; are you a know-it-all too, nothing91?

Also, you have had several self-deleted comments. I wonder what you said in those posts.

Rocsyl said...

Hi Don,

"I agree with you. That's exactly what I am getting at. Meat is medicine for certain deficiencies, but long-term excess can cause problems. On the other hand, a vegan diet can be medicine for certain excesses, like Masterjohn's warts. The same for me: Vegetarianism was medicine for excesses that I accumulated in the ~20 years before I started eating a vegetarian diet, but keeping to it for too long, I developed deficiencies. Then, reintroducing meat was medicine for those deficiencies, but long-term adherance to a high-meat high-cholesterol diet created problems of excess again. This is what I mean by quality, quantity, context. My experiences and observations led to this...This is what I have come to as a result of my 'bias.'"

This made me to think about the idea of choosing food following the nature. Some "paleo" guys are conscious about seasoning, but it requires therefore very little meat on summer. Few paleo people seem to change radically their way of eating when seasons change.

Has anyone tried to eat as fruitarian on summer, and "typical paleo" on winter ? (and probably more balanced on autumn/spring with other foods, nuts for instance ?)

By the way, I'm impressed by the fact you recognize having some issues with the dietary system you prone on this blog. You join the Michael Pollan thought about eating ("mostly plants"). I think you should do some synthesis, things are not so simple, it's not about choosing between one extreme or another, just finding how you work. Without throwing the baby with water.

In my point of view, I do not believe in a regular/monotonous diet. Giving up meat about a month or two (short term ?) should not be as horrible for our body. Long term is another thing. Maybe.

Good luck for the future.

nothing91 said...

Kevan,

"What do you want?"

I want Don to be more honest about what he knows and what he doesn't know. More honest about his past diet experiences. More honest about how his clients did on high-fat diets (see my prior comments about what he said on this issue 3 months ago vs. now).

Note that asking for more honesty doesn't necessarily mean I think he's intentionally lying. The brain is an amazing thing -- bias can work at an unconscious level and affect everything from memory to evidence interpretation. I hope Don will consider this and work on being more objective. His post prior to this one -- the first two paragraphs aside -- was encouraging.

As for the deleted posts, since you can't edit to fix typos that's just the way it goes sometimes. But please do keep focusing on what's important. :-)

Kevan said...

@nothing91

"Note that asking for more honesty doesn't necessarily mean I think he's intentionally lying. "

Your earlier comment:

"Here's where you're just flat-out being dishonest. There's no way you would have switched from a vegetarian to meat-based diet if you were sufficiently healthy eating the former."

You weren't referring to a subconscious bias here, you were straight up calling him a liar, in so many words.

The point is that it seems like he IS being pretty forthright, and he has explained himself thoroughly every time he gets called out. It just seems like you are bound and determined to denounce him as dishonest, no matter how honest he attempts to be. Heck, he did 5 long comments in a row trying to address your concerns, and you just write them all off as straw man arguments.

I don't care that you disagree with Don's opinion; I just find it annoying that you continuously accuse him of dishonesty when he has tried, repeatedly, to explain his positions. If you are just dead set on thinking he's lying, then so be it, there isn't any point debating you anymore.

Erik said...

Hi Don,

I enjoyed your talk on Friday and had a question. I would have asked in person, but I was volunteering and had to hightail it back to the main hall immediately after the talk.

Are the herbs and gums used by the Masai and other cultures commercially available? If so, where (and what are they)?

Thanks.

Sue said...

Rocsyl I like this:

"This made me to think about the idea of choosing food following the nature. Some "paleo" guys are conscious about seasoning, but it requires therefore very little meat on summer. Few paleo people seem to change radically their way of eating when seasons change."

theshmaltz said...

I'm going to posit the radical notion that everyone's right! The "paleo" folk, vegetarians, vegans, fruitarians, low-carbers, zero-carbers...EVERYONE!

Each one of these people have found the way of eating that they feel makes them feel better, gives them more energy, lost weight etc etc...and you know what, they are all right! Who are we to tell these people that they are NOT right?!

I would think that given 6+ billion people on this earth, there is a pretty fair amount of variability in people's response, tolerances and to a wide array of food and macro nutrient ratios.

Peter said...

@Nothing91

What's the fuss buddy? If anything you should be jubilant and in joy that you have been exposed this new angle to paleo. Don has put amazing info, from a new perspective. See the big picture. Your world has been enriched yet you act all surly.

Grok said...

Don I never read that post, so to me it never happened ;)

I've been met with resistance (and misunderstanding) especially recently for my belief in plant-based diets. Once even by you. I don't care, I'll just keep on trucking and build up my case just like you.

Best wishes, and keep on keepin' on!

nothing91 said...

Kevan,

The vegetarian diet issue is the one case (and the only one case) where I have used the word 'dishonest'. It's not a term I throw around lightly. But in this case the Omnivore link proved me correct.

Now, if you can explain to me how using the word once means that I "continuously accuse him of dishonesty", I would be grateful.

The vast majority of his posts to me today had absolutely nothing to do with anything that I've written here. So what do you want me to do?

Don said...

nothing91,

One last time. I don't have to tolerate this crap from you, but I have so far.

In the original post, I wrote:

"I forgot to write that I came to meat-based 'paleo' diet after ~14 years eating a primarily vegetarian, grain-based, macrobiotic diet. That diet, combined with herbal medicine, had provided me with many health benefits, not the least of which being control of my constitutional tendency to respiratory allergies and inflammatory skin conditions (diagnosed as eczema and psoriasis, labels I don't necessarily accept)."

Nowhere in that paragraph did I say that a TOTALLY VEGETARIAN diet made me perfectly healthy. I said that a PRIMARILY vegetarian diet gave me "many health benefits." That is true.

It is not falsified by Omnivore article, which presented my experience as a result of trying TOTALLY VEGETARIAN stints for varying lengths of time. The Omnivore article explains pretty clearly how I kept trying vegan dieting for periods of time, with ill effects, and kept reintroducing animal products as a result, and eventually gave up trying to make a vegan approach sustainable for the long term. In fact, it recounts my path of experimentation leading to the realization that a PRIMARILY vegetarian macrobiotic diet gave me the most health benefits that I could get from that grain-based diet approach.

Thus, to reiterate, I found that a PRIMARILY vegetarian diet gave me the most health benefits with the least drawbacks. It was from that realization that I moved into a 'paleo' diet produce-dominated by weight, meat-and-fat based by energy.

If you see those words in the original blog above as dishonest, I think you are just bent on reading things into my words, and finding some fault with my words no matter what.

This blog is private property, like my living room. If anyone comes into my house repeatedly just to insult and undermine me, I'm going to throw them out. You can go elsewhere with your negativity. If you bring it back here, you won't be welcomed. Before this crap with you, I was letting all comments go up without moderation. But as a result of this crap, I have chosen to moderate, just as I choose who comes into my living room; not because I don't tolerate disagreement (you can find plenty of that tolerated on this blog), but because I don't tolerate people who repeatedly insult me.

Its easy for you to tear me apart because my story is out there all over the internet. Where is your story? I have no idea, and I don't care. But realize that I am in the vulnerable position, not you.

By the way, thank you Kevan and Peter for your support.

David Csonka said...

Don,

I enjoyed your presentation at the AHS. I'm glad you continue to present your thoughts on these matters, despite being somewhat controversial in everybody else's eyes.

We need thoughtful debate, not group-think.

Sahariii83 said...

Don, I was a student of yours about a year ago, I just wanted to know, what is your diet, now that you no longer follow the paleo diet?

Thank you

Don said...

Saharri,

Its a matter of debate whether what I do now is 'paleo' or not. There is no one universal meaning of 'paleo diet' in the scientific literature, except 'old diet.' For example, scientists consider the grain-based Egyptian diet of the mummified pharaohs a 'paleo-diet.' The vegan diet of the Ice Man is also referred to as a 'paleo-diet' because it was long ago.

Anyway, my 'hunter-gatherer' diet guide condenses my general approach at this point, which is subject to change as I learn.

http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/p/primal-diet-guide.html

nothing91 said...

Don,

You're doing a heck of a job of playing the victim here, which is unfortunate because it distracts from the real issues. (Or maybe that's the goal.)

Your accusations that I "repeatedly insult" you are patently false. I have engaged in no name-calling and no personal attacks; I have merely questioned what you're writing based on the evidence as I see it as well as what you've written in the past. (If you want to claim that calling you dishonest one time regarding one issue is a personal attack, I'd submit that you might be a bit sensitive.)

The issue with the Omnivore article vs. what you say now has nothing to do with on which days you were completely vegetarian vs. mostly vegetarian. The thing is that, unless you're 80 years old, these two sentences refer to the same period of time:

This post:

"...I came to meat-based 'paleo' diet after ~14 years eating a primarily vegetarian, grain-based, macrobiotic diet."

Omnivore article:

"In fact, for about 16 years I tried valiantly to thrive on a meat-free diet."

But you represent your health during this period of time completely differently in this post vs. the Omnivore article.

It's as simple as that. If you want to ban me from posting here because I'm pointing out these kinds of discrepancies, that's certainly your prerogative. I will continue reading regardless.

Don said...

nothing91,

"Playing" victim? give me a break. I am simply pointing out that I don't know anything about any discrepancies in your reports about anything, but you are hyperfocused on what isn't even a discrepancy in mine.

I said, I got health benefits from a PREDOMINANTLY vegetarian diet, and I got problems from multiple and prolonged attempts to be vegan. These statements are not in any way incompatible. In order for you to be right, you would have to prove that (somewhere I said that) I did not have relief from respiratory allergies and skin inflammation by eating a predominantly vegetarian diet. You won't find it anywhere in the Omnivore article because it isn't true. You can check with my ex-wife and with the Chinese medicine provider who help me get that skin relief. I did get that relief, and I even maintained that relief while trying repeatedly to take a predominantly vegetarian diet one step further to sustained veganism. The attempts at prolonging a vegan diet did not abolish those health benefits, although it did cause other problems, which accumulated with time.

This last post of yours only convinces me that you can only see this in black and white, but it is NOT black and white. I really don't see why it is so difficult for you to understand that something can be a mixed bag of benefits and drawbacks.

Tracy said...

Nothing91 while you can claim to not be calling Don names, you certainly seem fixated on making some points that seem far beyond needing to take up anymore space/time/or energy. You act like your Columbo looking for where the suspect is going to slip. What is up with 'exposing the Omnivore article, is this your big caper for the week?

Don did what he did and ate what he ate while he and his ex had created the website from which that article has been 'uncovered.' and he later created a blog for similar, yet different reasons.

From my own experience, it can take time for symptoms to unfold, and meanwhile, our own needs change. This isn't so much an accounting problem, of something in must balance, or exceed what goes out to break even, or make a profit. We are dynamic, living organisms, each with our own challenges, all of which can also be effecting how we respond to different foods.

Don focuses diligently on trying to follow a 'prescribed' philosophy to ensure that the results reflect his applying the principles accurately. He gives it his all, and tweaks it as well, applying the many interpretations of each diet style, such as paleo. Eat high meat, high fat, no carbs, some carbs, etc, all while trying to feel satieted and have his total caloric needs met for his energy expenditure.

I am sure many people out there are doing the same dance, which is what it all is. We each need to trust our own direct experience, while learning to discern that from the misleading cravings of the mind.

He has spelled out his history, and yet never owed it to you or anyone. He shares because as he experiences things that conflict with some of the paleo principles that exist as if a given, he seeks out the reasons why, and looks until he feels satisfied. This is also a path unfolding, as it is leading him, and us to some huge ah ha's that can answer many questions for people, and allow paleo to have a broader, more effective application for the masses.

Ultimately, there is a potential for a huge contribution to be made here, a gem in the rough. Any great creative mind of our past went thru similar trial and error, as the errors often trigger the greatest break-thrus.

Don is the most thoughtful, thorough, and devoted person you may ever meet when it comes to his lifetime passion for nutrition, and teaching. He began to self-heal as a young man far before much of the information available today was ever written.

You, on the otherhand have inspired me to actually take up the cause to post comments. Hopefully, this issue can soon come to rest. Whatever Don did than under circumstances he was living thru at the time is a lot different than now, or even when he started this blog. The themes may be similar, but both were created at very different times, and with different resources. The only thing certain is change. Hopefully, this ping pong match can come to a close. Energy can be more valuably spent elsewhere.

nothing91 said...

Don,

"I really don't see why it is so difficult for you to understand that something can be a mixed bag of benefits and drawbacks."

Again I don't know where this comes from. I haven't said nor implied that diets are black & white in terms of benefits and drawbacks.

It's just interesting that in this post you chose to only mention the benefits, while at the same time acting like you switched to a meat-based diet even though the vegetarian-based diet was so great and wonderful.

Tracy said...

Nothing91, Really?????
Are you someone that always needs to get the last word in, or just stuck on a point like a groove in an old LP record?

I am dizzy trying to undrestand what you are obsessing about. Are you looking for some kind of confession? You seem to have a deflective counter-point no matter what is posted back in response. Yet you deny your own words or meanings, like never saying you you thought every diet was black and white. It sure seems to me that is all you see.

I have followed ideas or diets for a long time myself, having received benefits, yet never completely resolving some core issues I originally tried to address.

I and many of Don's students all did well initially eating 'paleo.' Yet, after time passed, it seemed the benefits waned, and symptoms slowly developed. So many variables can cause this, so many of us continued looking for the culprit, assuming it must NOT be the meat and fat since Paleo promises that those are optimal food choices.

Unfortunately, many of us second guess our own experience trying to make things go fantastically like those selling the books and their personal experiences. We figure they must know more than me, and question ourselves.

Hopefully you are getting something positive out of all of this, and following Don's blog as you said yourself you will keep reading it no matter what.

Don said...

Erik,

In the paper I have on the Masai's use of herbs, the author, Timothy Johns, only names two of the dozens, one a bitter, Acacia nilotica and one a gum, Commiphora africana, a form of myrrh. I don't know if those specific herbs are available anywhere. We use one variety of Commiphora species in Chinese medicine, and another species, mukul, is available in Ayurvedic medicine.

Unfortunately, all this knowledge is being lost because people are saying it is folklore, etc. instead of seeing it as an evolved, essential part of human nutrition and medicine.

In short, I don't know the whole list and don't know if they are available. I know Chinese medicine and we have many 'food grade' herbs in Chinese medicine that people in traditional China routinely added to food to promote health, counter excess fat ingestion, etc.

ONe example, however, is Swedish bitters, widely available in natural food stores.

Sue said...

This may be helpful - Masai plant/herb use:
http://www.ethnobiomed.com/content/2/1/22

theshmaltz said...

nothing91, how about you go and hang out somewhere else. You're really not contributing anything to furthering our understanding, or doing anything to educate us with any knowledge you may have, other than to deliberately bait Don in uninteresting and tedious arguments about irrelevant issues.

While I don't agree with some of Don's latest views, I'm interested to hear what he has to say without a nagging child rabbling on in the background.

Thank You.

Erik said...

Thanks, Don and Sue.

Heather Mamatey said...

Yes, please, Nothing91, take it somewhere else. You are a complete bore. Go hijack someone else's thread.

Unfortunately, Don, as you probably well know, when you challenge people's belief systems, they may not react well, most especially the True Believer/fundamentalist types, which almost every diet camp seems to attract their fair share of. Paleo is no exception.

Speaking your truth, even if you know it's not going to be popular, is always the right thing to do. Many will love you for speaking what they themselves were too afraid to say out load.

The downside, of course, is that you'll also stir up a few haters, who (I suspect) resent having their belief system challenged in such an intelligent way, by someone who obviously knows what they're talking about.

I wrote about this exact subject on my own website earlier this summer:

http://www.my-healthy-eating-secrets.com/paleo-diet-trial-day-10.html

ryn said...

re: herbs and nutrition--

you don't need to import African herbs to get the health benefits!

there are many, many bitter herbs all over the world and they're all useful for stimulating synchronizing gastrointestinal secretions to improve digestion.

artichoke is a good basic bitter. centaury is useful when there is upset in the stomach itself. yellow dock has a mild laxative effect, so it's good if there's constipation. but really, any of these will be helpful and do the job. indeed, one of their major effects is to improve bile flow, which allows for better digestion of fats.

medicinal plants are a major part of traditional cultures everywhere, and a "paleo" diet that regards them as nothing more than spices & flavorings is incomplete. i've seen some spotty mentions of this element here and there in the paleo blogs, but we could definitely explore it much more deeply.