disciplinary field of Paleolithic diet.
During the time the internet's PALEODIET email list was active (late 1990s), Professor Cordain was a primary supporter of the group, making numerous contributions. The list functioned primarily for scholars and interested onlookers, with discussion devoted to scientific research on paleoanthropological findings on early human diets, as well as to modern clinical research with a bearing on diets modeling them today.
Loren has graciously allowed us to reproduce here a number of his scientifically referenced postings from the Paleodiet list and has approved edits to make them stand on their own apart from the listgroup, and to be as clear as possible for the layperson. We invite you to sample here his discussions of the research findings bearing on the question of healthy omnivorous diets, and the pitfalls of diets discordant with our genetic inheritance from the human evolutionary past.
- The Late Role of Grains and Legumes in the Human Diet, and Biochemical Evidence of their Evolutionary Discordance. As a non-evolutionary food class for humans, grains and legumes carry with them certain health risks that rise with elevated levels of consumption. However, these factors have seldom been considered in any depth by conventional nutritional research, due to lack of appreciation of the potential ramifications tied to the very late role of these foods in human dietary evolution. Focusing primarily on grains, this exploration looks at the reasons behind the problematic nature of grains and legumes from both the evolutionary standpoint, as well as recent research which is uncovering evidence of their mismatch with human physiology at the genetic level.
- Dietary Macronutrient Ratios and their Effect on Biochemical Indicators of Risk for Heart Disease: Comparing high-protein/low-carbohydrate diets vs. high-carbohydrate/low-fat diets. The conventional wisdom of the last 20-25 years has championed high-carbohydrate/low-fat diets as optimum, while dismissing higher protein, low-carbohydrate diets as dangerous. Yet evolutionary research provides strong evidence that the latter dietary pattern is in fact the one humans evolved on during the formative stages of our species' development. Ironically, however, very little clinical research has actually been performed specifically on high-protein/low-carb diets. Lately this picture has begun to change. You'll read here about the information being uncovered in recent years that suggests the need for a thorough rethinking of conventional views about appropriate macronutrient ratios in the diet, including more critical investigation of the positive and negative effects of various types of fat.
- Are Higher Protein Intakes Responsible for Excessive Calcium Excretion? Some modern nutritional studies have suggested that high levels of protein, and particularly animal protein, by contributing to excretion of calcium in the urine, lead to osteoporosis. Yet analysis of fossil bone of Paleolithic humans--whom research indicates would have eaten high levels of protein--shows excellent skeletal status. What's behind this apparent paradox? A closer examination of the overall picture of calcium balance shows there are numerous responsible factors in the equation, of which protein intake is but one, a couple of which are likely more important than the issue of protein alone.
- Metabolic Evidence of Human Adaptation to Increased Carnivory. A recently updated analysis of the data compiled on known hunter-gatherers present and past indicates a diet composed on average of over 50% animal food. This picture is supported by metabolic evidence showing that human biochemistry is analogous in some respects to that of cats, in having become increasingly dependent on certain nutrients from animal foods that are not as efficiently synthesized by the human body from plant foods.