Over at Runner’s World, Alex Hutchinson recommends three good books on nutrition. One is by Matt Fitzgerald called Diet Cults: The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of Us. Alex writes, “As you’d expect, he takes shots at various popular diets — Paleo, vegan, low-carb, low-fat, raw, and so on — but this isn’t really a debunking book. Frankly, if you’re a devoted adherent to one of these diets, this book probably won’t change your mind.” Anyway, Mr. Fitzgerald proposes a healthy eating hierarchy. The idea is that, wherever a food lies on the scale, the aim is to eat more of the foods that rank above it, and less of those ranked below it. In other words, generally eat more of the foods at the top of the list.
- nuts, seeds, and healthy oils
- high-quality meat and seafood
- whole grains
- refined grains
- low-quality meat and seafood
- fried foods
Those top four items pretty much define a pure paleo diet.
Steve Parker, M.D.
h/t Yoni Freedhoff (His Diet Fix book is one of the three recommended)
Fleas from rats spread Yersinia pestis to humans
Alex Hutchinson has a recent article in Canada’s The Globe and Mail on the potential health benefits of the paleo lifestyle
. His conclusion:
So will going paleo really pay off with better health? As a big-picture guide to how to organize your life, definitely. But don’t get carried away with trying to recreate the exact details of a long-lost diet. Humans have changed and diversified even over the past few thousand years, so the only way to know what works best for your genes is to experiment. Go wild.
The article mentions the “increasing pace of human evolution,” an idea I’m still not convinced is valid. Sure, a large population of critters should produce more genetic variation and mutation. But it could take longer for a successful variation to spread through that population, compared to a smaller population. It depends on selection pressure, to some extent. The Black Plague in 14th century Europe changed that population quicker than any single genetic mutation I know of. It wiped out 40% of the population. Were those who survived genetically different from those who died?
I have much respect for Alex’s thoughts on exercise. He usually puts more research and thought into his writing. Check out his Sweat Science blog.
Steve Parker, M.D.