Paleolithic Diet vs. Vegetarianism interviews
T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S F O R
Fire and Cooking in Human Evolution,
Rates of Genetic Adaptation to Change,
Hunter-Gatherers, and Diseases in the Wild
- Preface and introductory remarks
- Knowledge gap in vegetarian community about evolutionary data/implications
- Many Natural Hygienists identify the system with certain dietary details, even though the system itself flows from principles independent of those details.
- Hygienic and vegan diets are a significant restriction of the diet(s) on which humans evolved.
- Avowed Shelton loyalists are actually the ones who have most ignored his primary directive.
- Only two insights remain that are still somewhat unique to Natural Hygiene.
- Strong recognition of the principle of the body as homeostatic self-healing mechanism.
- Fasting as a tool to promote such self-healing.
- In some ways Natural Hygiene now resembles a religion.
- The rift in the Natural Hygiene movement over raw vs. cooked foods
- Character of the rift: doctors vs. the rank-and-file.
- One side ignores the need for philosophical consistency. The other denies practical realities and real-world results.
- Is there a way these two stances in the conflict over cooking can be reconciled and accounted for scientifically?
- When was fire first controlled by human beings?
- Evidence for very early control of fire is sparse and ambiguous.
- Earliest dates for control of fire accepted by skeptical critics.
- Crux of the question: first control of fire vs. earliest widespread use.
- Sequence of stages in control: fire for warmth vs. fire for cooking.
- Opportunistic exploitation of animal kills by predators after wildfires.
- Potential adaptation to cooking in light of genetic rates of change
- Rates of genetic change as estimated from speciation in the fossil record.
- Measurements of genetic change from population genetics.
- Influence of human culture on genetic selection pressures.
- Relationship between earliest milking cultures and prevalence of lactose tolerance in populations.
- Genetic changes in population groups who crossed the threshold from hunting-gathering to grain-farming earliest.
- Recent evolutionary changes in immunoglobulin types, and genetic rates of change overall.
- Rates of gluten intolerance.
- What do common genetic rates of change suggest about potential adaptation to cooking?
- Are cooking's effects black-and-white or an evolutionary cost/benefit tradeoff?
- Cooking introduces some toxic by-products but neutralizes others.
- We have a liver and kidneys because there have always been toxins in natural foods the body has had to deal with.
- The belief that a natural diet can be totally toxin-free is an idealistic fantasy.
- Cooking may favorably impact digestibility.
- Cooking practices of Aborigines in light of survival needs.
- The role of individual experimentation given evolutionary uncertainties about diet
- Fly in the ointment: dietary changes since advent of agriculture.
- The need to be careful in making absolute black-and-white pronouncements about invariant food rules that apply equally to all.
- Conflicting data from various modern lines of evidence means people must experiment and decide for themselves.
- Openness means challenging any rigid assumptions we may have through experimentation.
- Conflicts between paleo/anthropological vs. biochemical/epidemiological evidence
- Cornell China Study conclusions about cholesterol and animal protein are contradicted by evidence from studies of modern hunter-gatherers.
- Large and significant differences between domesticated meat vs. wild game.
- Protein and calcium loss: fossil remains of Paleolithic humans reveal high bone mass despite presumed high protein intake.
- Caveats with respect to using modern hunter-gatherers as dietary models
- Not all "hunter-gatherer" tribes of modern times eat diets in line with Paleolithic norms.
- Infectious disease in modern hunter-gatherers.
- Fasting vs. extended nutritional stress/deprivation seen in some modern hunter-gatherers pushed onto marginal habitats.
- Animals in the wild on natural diets are not disease-free.
- Uninformed naturalism and unrealistic expectations in diet
- Unrealistic perfectionism leads to heaping inhumanity and guilt on ourselves.
- Health improvements after becoming ex-vegetarian
IMPORTANT: The updates and additional observations linked to below modify some of the conclusions that were reached at the time the interview was first published in 1996. Before attributing a specific view on a particular subject to the author, please make sure you read the updates first.
- Uncertainties about earliest use of fire for cooking
- Incompatibilities between dairy consumption and human physiology
- Genetic changes due to "neoteny" (such as adult lactose tolerance) not indicative of overall rates of adaptation.
- Additional indications of incongruence between dairy and human physiology.
- Lactose and heart disease.
- Poor Ca:Mg ratio which can skew overall dietary ratio.
- Saturated fat.
- Molecular mimicry/autoimmune response issues.
- Signs of evolutionary mismatch between grains and human physiology
- Certain wheat peptides appear to significantly increase the risk of diabetes through molecular mimicry.
- Research suggests that celiac disease is probably also caused by autoimmune responses.
- Phytates in grains bind the minerals iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.
- Hyperinsulinism, excess carbohydrate consumption, and "Syndrome X."
- Hyperinsulinism and diabetes.
- Recent studies indicate diets higher in protein reduce symptoms of Syndrome X.
- Why do cooked or denser foods often improve raw/vegan health?
- For those who do not thrive on raw vegan diets, do the benefits experienced from grains/dairy outweigh any downsides?
- Long-term concerns.
- Mitigating circumstances.
- Noteworthy difference between lacto-vegetarian subpopulations and raw-foodists adding grains/dairy.
- For previous raw-foodists, the supplemental amounts are usually relatively modest.
- Information about cooking's ultimate impact on health at the biochemical level of detail is still inconclusive.
- Big picture is more clear: Impact of cooking is likely to be much less important than other overarching considerations.
- Magnitude of effect from macronutrient ratios likely plays the most influential role.
- Types of fats, and their ratios and sources.
- Factors that may precipitate Syndrome X.
- Eating all natural foods or all-raw by itself does not automatically result in a prudent diet.
- Which foods are, in fact, the most natural for humans.
- Which natural foods can be important to minimize or avoid.
- What balance of macronutrients, whether raw or cooked, results in best long-term nutrition?
- Update on protein intake and bone loss
- Animal protein has greater impact on calcium excretion.
- Paradox of high bone mass in pre-agricultural skeletons despite large animal protein intake points to compensating factors.
- Eskimos and osteoporosis.
- Brief miscellaneous points
RETURN TO BEGINNING OF INTERVIEWS
SEE TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR: PART 1 PART 2 PART 3
GO TO PART 1 - Setting the Record Straight on Humanity's Prehistoric Diet and Ape Diets
GO TO PART 2 - Fire and Cooking in Human Evolution
GO TO PART 3 - The Psychology of Idealistic Diets / Successes & Failures of Vegetarian Diets
Back to Frank Talk by Long-Time Insiders