Many are already convinced that the original take on the Paleo Diet got it wrong on starchy tubers (and starch in general), legumes, honey, and perhaps a few other things…like the idea one is best suited to a high fat, high protein, and low carb, or even ketogenic, diet.
There’s many posts here on all of that stuff and in terms of potatoes, going back to 2009 even. Curiosity gets the best of me and I’m never comfortable or satisfied with pat, just-so answers to anything.
Moreover, way back, the science of the gut microbiome was a gaping hole in terms of integration into the diet. That’s perhaps the most understandable, since it’s only in the last few years that the science has skyrocketed. There is no shame in ignorance, only in refusing to correct it when new facts present themselves.
Before I delve into why I think paleo may have gotten it wrong on grains, let me post an email I got yesterday from a long-time reader and commenter, Steven.
I figure it has been a long time coming for a little report out on my n=1 experience.
Years ago (2011) I went paleoish for a year then went VLC. I have a nasty autoimmune issue so doing whatever I could easily try I was on: like white on rice.
The start of the paleoish lifestyle was awesome. It really helped me a lot. My arthritis pains ebbed. My psoriasis was far more manageable. Less fatigue. feeling better in general.
Then the VLC [“Very Low Carbohydrate”] I was on for about 8-9 months really seemed to help immensely. I was able to stop all biologics for my arthritis. I used Enbrel on and off, mostly off, to help ward off the symptoms. I was really broken. The VLC seemed to help the best until it stopped helping 8 months in.
I fast pretty regularly as well. One long fast per week (24+hours). One day I eat early on and eat all day and the rest is intermittent per leangains.
I kept trying things and adding stuff and removing stuff but alas nothing was helping as profoundly as when I first went on this journey until your Tatertot era…. That is what I call it.
I added in a lot of carbs. I mean a lot. 2-3 ponds of various potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, rice and tons of fruit per day most days. I ate lots of various animal products still. Nose to tail. I used various supplements as well and have settled upon the ones I will most likely use until end times.
So I did a ton of various probiotics. Elixa was a good one for me. As well as the Prescript-Assist and the Primal Defense. I use Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil. Bovine tracheal cartilage and gelatin (need joint support from years of damage) and N-Acetyl Cysteine.
I started with the “blood letting” by donating as well.
Before the first time I gave blood (to get a little graphic) various body parts would itch like mad: groin and scalp. Afterward the itching has been very sporadic. My guess is due to various foods I may have a slight allergic reaction to. But that reaction is ebbing as well. I will be donating again in another month and we shall see what happens then.
Unless I eat egg plant or too many tomatoes and chilies all of my symptoms have been completely managed sans the Enbrel. I am well over a month out since my last injection and man oh man do I feel wonderful. I was doing a shot every 3-4 weeks when the dosage is 1 a week. I am way past that with no need to shoot up.
I have a ways to go. I am too chicken shit to try gluten foods. The pain I had years ago was debilitating and do not want to relive it. I really do not miss them either so it is not a problem for me. But someday when I really really want a good old fashioned grilled up messy Reuben sandwich I will order a loaf from here.
Anyway, sorry the crackers in Mexico were very cracker like. Anytime I have lived abroad I always avoided the gringo myself. I usually found brits, aussies, and germans to play with.
A million thank yous!!!
Now, first, those who follow comments know that this sort of report is nothing new—thousands of them over the years. Also, there are the reports that nothing has really helped, combined with the even more miraculous improvements than for Steven. We report it all, here; you decide. I like to think that the ideas presented here are purposefully as non-formulaic as I can manage, so that people just have a few things to try but by necessity, have to determine their own “dosages” and mix of things through trial and error. Be your own lab rat and learn the process of isolating variables—even though my own approach is to purposefully confound them, but that’s a story for another day.
Here’s why I think paleo got it wrong with grains. The narrative was compelling. They did not play a big role in the evolution of hominoids in general, nor H. sapien, though as we’ve recently discovered, the tiger nut tuber (Cyperus esculentus, that’s macro-equivalent to mammalian milk and micro-nutritionaly edges out red meat), where a day’s worth of nutrition can be harvested in a couple of hours—even by baboons to this day—really put a chink in the armor of “man the great hunter”—or even scavenger of marrow and brain from carnivore kills.
They may have got it wrong by failing to make an obvious distinction between the modern, industrial means of field to table, that requires stripping off bran and germ (where all the nutrition is) in order to have a nutritionally vapid endosperm (this is equivalent to eating egg whites—half the protein and most of the sodium vs. nearly every vitamin and mineral in the yolk) flour product that’s shelf stable for months and years vs. a whole grain that goes rancid quickly, especially without refrigeration.
So, in economic terms, did we Paleos conflate agriculture with industrialization, consequentially throwing out babies with bathwater in the process?
Let’s take a look at facts, first. Let’s compare the nutritional profile of white, unenriched wheat flour with enriched, then with whole grain flour, by which I mean the grinding of entire wheat berries into flour.
…Has anyone in paleo actually done this before, or did they all just pack the package-deal securely away, and set off to make money on a narrative of avoidance, rather than critical distinction? NOTE: these graphs are for purposes of comparison and so show the % RDA (or Adequate Intake) of the various nutrients for a 1 oz serving, not the actual quantities.
Jane Karlson, an Oxford PhD—who’s solidly a “Duck Dodgers” collaborator for a while now—has been studying the interactions of iron, manganese, and copper for 30 years. My layman take is that while iron is essential, manganese and copper act as a sort of yin-yang deal, with the former being an inhibitor and the later, a catalyst. Nature works in mysterious ways, with negative feedbacks being far more dominant than positive ones (the critical mistake global-warming alarmists make). This is the paradigm in which we evolved.
Bottom line: she thinks all refined white flours are bad, whether enriched or not, and whole ground grains (use stone or ceramic so as not to create too much heat) are fabulous, super-food-esque.
Well, everyone gets to decide for themselves but I like graphs because three pictures might be worth a 3-thousand word post and this one will come in at half that.
I’m three days into my own experiment with entirely whole grains, rather artisan, crusty, rough, chewy and a little dark style. I’ve noticed a whole lot of things I’ll report on later, after a bit more time; but I thought I’d pump this out there in case any of my lab rats wish to join in.
OK, I’ll give you one hint, since nobody doesn’t like cookies dipped in milk. Get yourself a countryesque, crusty bâtard or similar, or a 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 grain deal, all artisanal whole grain, recently ground. They’re rough and chewy. Get some whole raw milk. Tear off portions of the bead, dip in said milk (nothing else), see how it works for you.