Archive for Diet and Nutrition

Is Fish Oil Paleo?

Ok, so it’s a provocative question.  Many people seem to feel that taking fish oil supplements is not “Paleo” because nothing should theoretically be “supplemented” when an honest Paleo diet is followed.  In other words, all supplements are technically non-Paleo by design.

Well, today we’re going to stick to the low road and allow for the idea that it’s okay to supplement with fish oil.  After all, it is worth pointing out that even the esteemed Dr. Loren Cordain gave “fish oil capsules” the green light in his classic book on the subject: The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat.

However, we did notice it was on the very bottom of his list of supermarket-friendly omega 3 fat sources.

[For those of you who are curious but don’t have the book yet, his list on page 24 led off with cold-water fish (e.g., halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon) and continued with flaxseed oil, liver, game meat, free-range chicken, pasture-fed beef, eggs enriched with omega 3, nuts (e.g., salt-free walnuts or macadamias), leafy green vegetables and finally — fish oil capsules.  (He makes a point to note they’re available at health food stores, which just goes to show how non-mainstream fish oil was eight years ago when his groundbreaking book came out.)]

Those tribe members following a “Paleo Zone” approach have most likely given in already to the notion that fish oil supplementation makes good health sense.  Nevertheless, some remain unconvinced, maintaining the non-Paleo nature of supplements while also bemoaning the added cost involved.

Like the lacto-paleo debate, there’s a lot to this discussion and we plan on looking more in detail in future posts.

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Chicken Salad with Almonds

A Paleo classic, this dish is satisfying for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Start by chopping up 1 cup of romaine and 1 cup of butter leaf lettuce, along with a half cup of chopped red cabbage.  Throw all that in a bowl.

Next, add 1 cup of diced chicken breast (cooked, of course) and a half cup of sliced almonds, plus another quarter cup of chopped dates.  You can substitute turkey for chicken, or raisins for dates, but we prefer to prepare it in this classic style.

Finally, drizzle about a tablespoon each of flaxseed oil and fresh-squeezed orange juice on top of all your ingredients, and toss it.  Get ready to sit back and enjoy.  This will serve you and a friend (or you and yourself again later).

Start ‘Em Young

NEJM

The New England Journal of Medicine just today published this article validating what most of us already know:  If you don’t set children on a healthy diet early on, they are likely to die at a younger age.

Lacto-Paleo Revisited

Dear Dairy...

More and more often, we hear about folks including dairy back into their (otherwise strict) Paleo diet and pursuing the so-called “lacto-paleo” approach.

Last month Mark Sisson put together a great blog post on dairy and its place in what he calls a “primal” (or Paleo) eating plan. We definitely recommend taking a few minutes to check it out if you’re at all interested in Paleo nutrition.

As usual, Sisson provides a well-researched and thought-provoking analysis of the topic.  (For example, we had never heard of A2 versus A1 milk and found this piece quite educational.)

There is obviously no “right answer” to whether milk belongs in our diet or not, but it certainly merits careful thought and experimentation by anyone involved in a Paleo diet.

Breakfast for Dinner

You know what?  Today we’re going to get in touch with that little breakfast-loving caveman in all of us.

For dinner, get yourself into the kitchen and fire up that chicken omelette you daydream about from time to time.

Go ahead.  Make it with a side a bacon.  Who cares that it’s after dark and you’re eating breakfast food?

The breakfast-loving caveman certainly doesn’t care.  To him it’s like a double-layer blanket of comfort food for the day.

The Argument for Lacto-Paleo

As various Tribe members forage deeper into the woods of the 2010 pure paleo challenge, some interesting conversations have begun to arise in the forest.  One of the more interesting and contentious ones is around dairy and whether or not it should be allowed into the paleo diet.

Some key experts in the field, including Dr. Loren Cordain in his book The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat, are clear in their opinions that dairy in any form is definitely non-paleo and therefore strictly discouraged.

However, others believe that an appropriate amount of lacto belongs in the paleo.  Dr. Kurt Harris, for example, is a strong advocate for paleo nutrition who in his blog goes so far as to say: “I myself consume copious amounts of butter and cream, half and half and occasionally whole milk.”  So he is not only okay with dairy, he’s enthusiastic about it.  “But, no surprise,” he continues, “I consume zero gluten grains.”

For Harris this is in line with his concept of trying to replicate the metabolic conditions of paleo man but doing so in a realistic manner amid our modern environment.  He just makes sure to drink high quality dairy products like raw, whole milk and fresh cream, or pasture-fed butter.  Specifically, he avoids all forms of skim milk which are carb-rich and unhealthy.

Good dairy provides an incredibly rich source of nutrients such as Vitamin A, selenium, and conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) — not to mention the uber-substance known as X-factor, which can be found in wholly pasture-fed butter.

“I find much less scientific evidence indicting dairy than grains,” he writes.

“Dairy is not paleolithic historically, but as a relatively ubiquitous food class, definitely helps in achieving the EM2 – the evolutionary metabolic milieu of low insulin levels and minimal toxins from modern cereal grains.”

He concludes by reminding us that his “PaNu EM2 is not a diet composed of prehistoric food items, it is a metabolic state that we are trying to live in while eating foods that exist now.”

It is worth noting, too, that Dr. Weston Price in his classic early 20th-century study Nutrition and Physical Degeneration found ample evidence of modern hunter-gatherer tribes who relied extensively on dairy as a cornerstone of their diet.  This was clear among one of the first groups he studied, the remote Swiss villagers in the Loetschental Valley.  They were the absolute picture of health, with full sets of straight and healthy teeth and free of all degenerative diseases.  And they ate dairy til the cows came home!

There definitely seems to be something compelling about milk for us humans.  Maybe it is simply because, as Jessica Prentice points out in her fascinating and informative book Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection, “Milk is the original comfort food.”

CrossFit Cannibalism

For those of us following the ongoing saga of CrossFit Nutrition, be sure to check out this recent post (“CrossFit Eat Their Young“) from Dr. Kurt Harris over at PaNu, one of our favorite paleolithic nutrition blogs.

Net net:  he offers some kind words of support for Robb Wolf.  And for Dr. Barry Sears, meh, not so much.