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The distinctive features of the human genome evolved in an era of some two and one half million years known as the paleolithic era (early stone age) .  During this era food was scarce, unpredictable and often not very diverse. There was no electricity, so sleeping and waking was entrained to the sun/moonlight/dark cycle. Obtaining food usually required a considerable expenditure of physical energy by hunting or foraging. Like others mammals, to guard against future shortages, we evolved the capacity to store excess calories when food was diverse and abundant.  Today a vast diverse abundance of food is always readily available. For most of us, obtaining our food requires the expenditure of a modest amount of mental but little physical energy. Much of the modern diet is “pre-digested” in the form of powdered grains and refined sugars so that we do not even have to expend energy to digest out food.  This mismatch between our hunter-gatherer genome and our modern sedentary processed food lifestyle is thought to have resulted  in a worldwide epidemic in the diseases of civilization or metabolic syndrome diseases such as obesity/sarcopenia (loss of lean body mass), cardiovascular disease, diabetes,  and hypertension.  Hence to optimize our biology and health, it is thought that we must return to the rhythms and patterns of our pre-industrial pre-agricultural ancestors without abandoning the spectacular advances that technology has brought about. Although a substantial literature exists on the value of a paleolithic lifestyle or “healthstyle”  an even larger literature exists on the topic of the health benefits of calorie restriction. In this blog I will discuss both how we might go both paleolithic and restrictive without going hungry or losing our 21st century identity 

In this blog, I hope  to expand on this aforementioned theme and some related topics  by following topic specific categories or threads. For the most part I do not intend to discuss my own experiences. The material will probably derive mostly from  my reading of medical journal articles.  I will never discuss the personalities or personal lives of other people. If you care to comment on this blog please keep in mind that this not a discussion about anyone’s personality.

As is usual in blogs or books of this type, the purpose is purely educational. The material does not in any way constitute medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For that you need to visit a qualified health care professional.  This blog is written with the assumption that the reader has a basic college level knowledge of science,  particularly biological science.

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2 Comments
  1. Felix Lopez permalink

    I understand the “restrictive” diet. As a young man, I worked in the High Sierras as a “trail crew grunt”. Our work projects were long and arduous; food was scarce, often not very diverse; obtaining food usually required a considerable expenditure of physical energy by walking many miles There was no electricity, so sleeping and waking was entrained to the sun/moonlight/dark cycle. I was very lean, always hungry but at the peak of my physical condition. I also felt at the peak of my spiritual condition. I didn’t want to return to the “regular life”. When I returned home one of my friends commented how shocked he was at my hard physical condition. Fast forward thirty years later at age 55. I have tried to maintain a good combination of life long physical fitness. It is not easy to maintain the paleo-hunter gather lifestyle because of the abundance of food and technology. After meeting the author of this blog while running, I plan to re-dedicate the remaining portion of my life to this approach.

  2. If you are interested in improving your health and well being by moving away from processed or overcooked foods, a good start might be to read Loren Cordain’s book: The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat (http://www.amazon.com/Paleo-Diet-Weight-Healthy-Designed/dp/0470913029/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325536263&sr=1-1) My problem with Cordain’s approach is that it eliminates some foods that have a longstanding tradition of being good or at least not harmful for your health. In my case, a short list of such foods would be (1) Straus Organic Plain Non-Fat Yogurt (2) Ezekiel Flourless Sprouted Grain Bread. If you really want to go 100% Paleo you would probably have to stop eating cooked meats since fire was only invented about 300,000 years ago. Going paleo then is mostly about eliminating the most unhealthy foods, nutrients or nutrient ratios and cooking methods while still staying within the eating/cooking tradition that you find comfortable. Another issue is cost, since paleo foods definitely cost more than their neolithic (or later) counterparts. If you have advanced cardiovascular disease or type II diabetes you might want to take a more stringent approach. The purpose of this blog is not to tell people specifically what to do but to point in a general direction. Each person needs to find his/her best formula based on experience, genetics and other factors.

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