Jul 15, 2012
The Central Dogma of Paleolithic diet 2.0 theory — that our Stone Age DNA is ill suited to a Space Age environment – is intuitively appealing but questionable with respect to a number of it’s tenets. Many Paleo 2.0 bloggers and authors cherry pick contemporary biomedical science research in order to turn small fragments of data culled from the prehistoric record into a total diet and lifestyle. Although Paleo diet enthusiasts do a pretty convincing job of making Stone Age soup from such meager scraps, anyone with a decent high school science education could take the same leftovers and cook up an equally convincing but different argument for what our prehistoric forebears ate and how they lived.
And then, there’s the problem of epigenetics: Neolithic foods, drugs, and dietary supplements can reprogram our genes in a New York minute and humans can adapt, favorably and unfavorably, to different diets and lifestyles within a single generation. In fact, gene reprogramming can take mere nanoseconds as the result of a simple thought. This has been established through MRI data and gene microarray analysis. Contemporary epigenetic science provides many important clues to achieving lifelong leanness, fitness, and optimized health that suggest we can thrive on certain Neolithic foods. Finally, the most compelling argument against the monolithic Paleo diet 2.0 approach: One Paleo diet does not fit all.
Some versions of the Paleo 2.0 diet allow dairy products, rice, and tomatoes even though they were not part of Paleo 1.0. Such foods contain the very toxins that Paleo 2.0 promoters rail against. Other Paleo 2.0 diet versions promote the consumption of refined vegetable oils and chocolate, yogurt, wine, and cocoa, while others promote consumption of whey protein milkshakes. Clearly, our hunter-gatherer ancestors never dined on any of these Neolithic foods or beverages. Many Paleo 2.0 diets appear to be little more than thinly disguised versions of the Atkins diet. Depending upon whose version of the Paleo 2.0 diet you read, it can get confusing.
First, let’s define the three versions of the “Paleo” diet
Paleo diet 1.0: This is the original Flinstone diet — the all-natural, gluten- and dairy-free way of eating that our Paleolithic forebears thrived on. But was this diet also optimized for aging troglodytes? That’s still a matter of debate.
Paleo diet 2.0: This is the contemporary re-imagining of the Paleo 1.0 diet as first promoted in a 1975 diet book by Dr. Walter Veogtlin, The Stone Age Diet. All current versions of the Paleo 2.0 diet derive from this one. There is significant disagreement among Paleo gurus as to which foods to include and exclude from their own idiosyncratic versions of Paleo 2.0.
The Paleo diet 3.0: Reprogram Yourself ® is the next evolutionary step in Paleocentric diets. It differs from Paleo 2.0 diets in a number of important ways:
- Reprogram Yourself® is a personalized approach to gene-compatible eating based on present knowledge in epigenetics, nutrigenetics, nutrigenomics, and nutraceutical science. Paleo 3.0 theory says that any food or bioactive food extract (nutraceutical) that favorably modifies the structure and function of our genes and that promotes fitness over fatness will tend to optimize our body fat levels and improve biomarkers of aging, health spans, and life spans. Reprogram Yourself ® recommends using personal blood chemistry panels to determine the effectiveness of diet and lifestyle. Reprogram Yourself ® is thus more correctly called a Paleocentric diet rather than a Paleolithic diet.
- Natural small bioactive molecules, known as nutraceuticals, when used individually or in synergistic combinations , can protect our Paleolithic DNA from the adverse gene-reprogramming effects of modern medicine and radiological scans. This includes small molecules found in such Neolithic foods and beverages as cocoa, olive leaf, green and black tea, pomegranate, red wine, and turmeric.
- Reprogram Yourself ® combines the healthiest nutritional aspects of two eras separated by tens of thousand of years: all-natural, largely unprocessed, organic, and pastured Paleocentric foods combined with natural nutraceuticals that can optimize the structure and function of our genes. The application of such foods and bioactive molecules are the result of breakthroughs in the fields of epigenetics, metabolomics, nutrigenetics, and nutrigenomics.
While the fundamental Paleo 2.0 diet looks reasonable enough on paper, I would offer these caveats:
- Reproductive fitness does not equal longevity. Some Paleo 2.0 enthusiasts apparently misinterpret Charles Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” hypothesis by equating reproductive fitness (what Darwin was actually referring to by the term he appropriated from Herbert Spencer) with extended health span and life span. The original Paleo 1.0 diet was never optimized to address the molecular degeneration of the human genome and mitochondria–the power plants inside our cells. Age-related declines in hormone production, digestion, nutrient absorption, and mitochondrial function are inevitable. Unfavorable epigenetic reprogramming of our genes accrues over a lifetime. Human female reproduction comes to a halt during the fifth decade of life leading to a gradual decline in health and fitness–a steep price demanded by evolution for robust reproductive fitness earlier in life. It’s clear that the Paleo 1.0 diet was never fully optimized to address such age-related changes in the human body; the same applies to Paleo 2.0 diet popularized in numerous books and blogs. In stark contrast, Reprogram Yourself ®, with its emphasis on personalized nutrition and drug-free nutraceutical protocols, addresses the shifting gender- and age-related nutritional requirements of humans in order to optimize health span and life span.
- Paleo 2.0 theory ignores the rapidity of epigenetic change. Various populations have genetically adapted to their indigenous diets and consequently can thrive on certain Neolithic foods: native Japanese and farmers living on the island of Crete enjoy the highest longevity rates on the planet. How do such diverse diets lead to the same impressive increases in health span and life span? Epigenetics. Although the last 10,000 years (the time since the advent of agriculture and dairy farming) has not been long enough to allow evolutionary changes to our underlying Paleolithic DNA, epigenetics has allowed humankind to adapt to and thrive on numerous Neolithic foods that no prehistoric hunter-gather ever tasted. Epigenetic changes can take place quite rapidly, as has been famously shown within a single generation of Agouti mice. Epigenetic changes have also enabled plants and animals to respond quickly to rapid changes in environment and food supply. There’s a great deal of human adaptation to foods that has taken place since the advent of agriculture and dairy farming, which is why certain groups of humans may be able to thrive on a diet that includes such Neolithic fare as rice and olive oil. Which brings me to the next caveat:
- One Paleo diet does not fit all. The diets of various populations of prehistoric hunter-gatherers were geographically determined and seasonally dependent. For example, foods consumed by tribes living on bodies of water had different nutritional profiles than foods available to landlocked tribes. The same differences would apply to tribes living in far northern climates vs. those habituated to tropical living. In this way, the various forms of Paleo 1.0 diets were crudely personalized to the needs of local populations struggling to adapt to widely varying environments. Epigenetic changes take place rapidly, which is why early humans were able to survive and thrive in extremely different climates while consuming a wide variety foods. Each of us has unique nutritional requirements that are genetically determined and are gender- and life stage-specific. Our prehistoric forebears never enjoyed the advantages of being able to personalize their food intake based on such sophisticated laboratory analyses as a blood chemistry profile, VAP, or PLAC test. In order to structure a diet optimized for extended health span and life span, individuals must be able to track key biomarkers in their own blood (e.g., glucose, homocysteine, hsCRP, insulin, leptin, uric acid, liver enzymes, Lp-PLA2, thyroid hormones, triglycerides) as the level of each changes in response to aging and to the foods, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals they consume.
- Paleo diets promote high intakes of heme iron and low intakes of iron-chelating foods. A diet rich in heme iron is generally healthy for growing children and for women during their childbearing years, but a heme-iron-rich diet may not be optimal for Neolithic adult men and postmenopausal women. See: “Is Your Paleo Diet Iron-Aging You?” Many Paleolithic men benefited from consuming a heme-rich diet because it helped them survive blood loss that occurred throughout the normal course of Paleolithic living. Today, without such periodic blood loss, Neolithic men and postmenopausal women could be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, kidney, and neurodegenerative diseases due to iron buildup.
- Paleo 2.0 diets ignore the mineral-chelating (calcium copper, iron, and zinc) benefits of such nutraceutical chelators as resveratrol, quercetin, curcumin, olive leaf extract (oleuropein), rice bran (inositol hexaphosphate), and green tea (EGCG). Highly absorbable heme iron-rich foods, including red meat, should not be chronically consumed throughout all life stages without adequate intake of natural mineral-chelating nutraceuticals. Paleo diet gurus who subscribe to the conventional Paleo diet wisdom that we should limit our intakes of mineral-chelating nutraceuticals–evolution’s safeguard against premature aging–are nutritional Luddites who ignore the remarkable health benefits of 21st century nutrigenetic science.
Reprogram Yourself ® and its drug-free nutraceutical protocols combined with blood chemistry testing provide a scientifically advanced way to harmonize nutrigenetic principles with your own unique biochemical, gender-specific and life-stage-specific requirements. Moreover, Reprogram Yourself ® nutraceutical protocols can favorably reprogram your genes and protect your Paleolithic DNA from the adverse gene-reprogramming effects caused by medical and dental x-ray tests, including x-ray mammography and CT scans, to a degree that no Paleo diet 2.0 can accomplish.
Bottom line: In an evolutionary context, the Paleo 2.0 diet is so five minutes ago.
☆ Disclaimer: This is my informed opinion. I could be wrong. What do you think?
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