Fitness Carter

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Popular Paleo Diet still has its skeptics -

Just about everybody, including daytime talk show hosts and fitness bloggers, are touting The Paleo Diet as a way to address health issues, including digestive problems and asthma.

But some in the science and medical fields aren’t convinced.

A recent U.S. News and World Report ranking of 29 diets that are popular in the U.S. today placed The Paleo Diet at No. 28.

A renewed interest in the diet of cavemen resulted when gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin wrote the Stone Age Diet in 1975. He based his book on his work with patients suffering colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion.

In the early 2000s, Loren Cordain, a professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University, also was studying the human diet during the Stone Age. He discovered that the chronic diseases, which he says afflict 50 to 65 percent of the Westernized adult population, were rare or nonexistent in hunter-gatherer societies.

And he hypothesized that “when hunter/gatherer societies transitioned to an agricultural grain-based diet, their general health deteriorated.”

In 2001, he authored The Paleo Diet (John Wiley & Sons) that claims we can turn back the clock on disease and become more healthy by eating and exercising as they did 2 ½ million to 10,000 years ago; the time before crops and animals were domesticated.

The diet also postulates that genetically we are similar to our ancient ancestors. Therefore it makes sense to eat the foods that kept them healthy and that kept the species alive before modern medicine.

“That’s pretty much the basis of The Paleo Diet,” says Sheah Rarback, a registered dietitian at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and a nutrition columnist for the Miami Herald.

Much like the popular Atkins diet, The Paleo Diet is based on simply prepared lean grass-fed meats, chicken, wild-caught fish and free-range eggs prepared with healthy oils such as avocado, olive and coconut.

It encourages eating high-fiber, low-glycemic fresh vegetables and fruits while avoiding added sugar. It also prohibits eating potatoes and all grains. The theory goes that wild grains are usually small, difficult to harvest and virtually indigestible without grinding and cooking. Thus Paleolithic people wouldn’t have eaten many of them.

Raw nuts and seeds are fine on this diet, but legumes such as peanuts and soybeans are prohibited because they are domesticated crops. Also dairy foods including milk, cheese and yogurt aren’t allowed. After all, hunter/gatherers would not have had access to milk once they were weaned from the breast, as sheep, goats and cows weren’t domesticated until 6,000 years ago, according to research posted on The Paleo Diet website (

Dr. Jorge Rabaza is the chief of surgery at South Miami Hospital and a bariatric surgeon who helps obese people control their weight. But three years ago, when excess pounds had crept onto his 5-foot-9-inch frame, he turned to The Paleo Diet to control his own growing gut.

“I adopted The Paleo Diet because it made sense to me and now I find it works,” says Rabaza, 53, who lost 40 pounds and is back to the weight he was in high school.

Mark Bluh, 49, started following The Paleo Diet on June 13, 2012, when he weighed close to 330 pounds. He’d played football in college and had more than a half dozen knee surgeries. With the extra weight on his 6-foot-4-inch frame, his knee was hurting again and he realized he had to lose weight.

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