Home > Nutrition > Nutrition Counter Culture – Part I

Nutrition Counter Culture – Part I

Disclaimer:  In the event that you know me personally and can account for my not doing everything I’m going to claim I do; shut up, it’s artistic license.  We’ve all got to have goals and ideals.

I eat fat.  I like fat.  I like it in many forms.  I like fat that comes from animals fed their ancestral diet or from the seed of a large tropical palm.  That I like fat so much may make me a foodie, which is coincidentally true, or it may make me part of a burgeoning nutrition counter culture, this is also true.  This particular strain of counter culture goes by the name paleo, primal, cave man, or hunter-gatherer.  I happen to like Paleo, but these are often used interchangeably.  Paleo is a reference to the Paleolithic era.  This is the 2million plus year period before the dawn of human agriculture and the seeds of modern civilization, but more about that later.

Now first, in fairness, Paleo isn’t solely about fat, but, and this is critically important, it isn’t fat-phobic.  Paleo is a diet of exclusion.  It, ideally, excludes all grains, legumes (beans), dairy, and meat from any animal not feed it’s ancestral diet.  This is very different from the diet that the US government and most doctors will recommend to you for health and longevity.  Let’s take a quick look at the latest government food pyramid.

So looking at the options across the bottom, the old fat/oil category isn’t even listed.  If you look closely you’ll see a bottle of oil at the base of the yellow pyramid segment.  This is the governments recommendation for fat…not much.  Looking at meat (and the apparently equivalent bean) you aren’t needing much of that either as a percentage of your diet.  So how and why can I disagree with billions of dollars of studies and the brightest minds in the medical community?  Well first they aren’t the brightest minds if they’re working for the government, frankly the government doesn’t pay too well relative to private industry, but that’s not why.

About a year ago I read through what I believe will be known some day as one of the most important medical books of all time.  Gary Taubes isn’t a scientist, or a clinician, he’s a science writer, and a pretty smart guy.  The only thing he discovered is that we already knew we got it wrong and we would not admit it.  Let me stop for a moment and say that you really should read Good Calories, Bad Calories, it is not a diet book, it is however seriously eye opening and very lengthy.

I will summarize a very good book very badly, and briefly.  Taubes looked at the history of scientific thought on why people get fat, heart attacks and other so called diseases of civilization.  So what did the history say?  It said fat isn’t to blame; the “fat hypothesis” didn’t bear out.  It turns out that for the better part of 200 years we’ve known that carbohydrates, especially the refined varieties, are very likely responsible for these diseases.  Now Taubes wasn’t the first to believe this, but rather he was the outside objective and extremely detailed person who put it together in a digestible package for the layman.

Before you think that all I’ve done is channel Dr. Atkins via many more pages, hold tight.  As I explore the this nutritional paradigm shift I’ll point out that there is much more to the story than carbohydrates.  As I unfold this onion, I hope that it’ll push you to research further and maybe come around to the Paleo view of nutrition.

Categories: Nutrition
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  1. July 25, 2010 at 11:35 pm

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