Loren Cordian (paleo adept but also fulltime cholesterolofobiac,
wich sounds like a contradictio in terminis), reviews the new
nutrtion guidelines for 2005.
keeps saying clever things, but it is hard to comprehend his lasting
fear for saturated fat. Especially since his Swedish co-worker
Staffan Lindeberg found the hunter gatherers in his Kitava
Study to be free of CHD 'despite high intake of cocunuts and 'relatively
high' serum lipids'.
and Fred Ottoboni
We just read Cordain's Newsletter on the Paleo Diet and the
Food Pyramid. We agree with you-all -- it is not the most
useful paper on the subject.
we call your attention to a paper that we just published on the Food
Pyramid, entitled: "The Food Guide Pyramid: Will the
Defects be Corrected?" It appears in the Winter, 2004
issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. It
is available free on their website at the following address:
think our views in this paper pretty well reflect the general views
of the Thincs group. We would like to hear your comments.
to say that this a very sound résumé of how and where things went
wrong and what the public needs to know to steer clear of
further damage. I am surprised that you managed to publish this in a
paper for physicians. What reactions did it elicit? And do you think
that also the popular press in America (f.e. the New York Times or
the Washington Post) would accept this view in their opinion
columns? If a scientist (or a science writer) would manage to
present this vision in a Dutch newspaper, a total war would break
out. As a journalist I am curious as to how 'ripe' the
atmosphere is in the various developed countries. Our media still
vigorously boycot any argument or opinion that challenges the
current nutrition guidelines. TV-journalist have the strongest
impact, but sadly they are also the most stupid of us all. It might
well be that this time only the Internet will be able to force
I have had personal communication with Cordain at the suggestion of
Ray Audette, whose book is quite interesting and who sent me a
sample of his homemade Pemmican. Delicious ! Cordain is extremely
helpful in providing links and answering questions but there is one
overriding issue: The
Bogeyman's name is Cholesterol ! He seems to have almost a phobia.
Audette is more open, although he contradicts himself within his own
book on the issue, so perhaps he can still be "educated'.
am thinking of sending my Ancel Keys poem to Cordain.
last year I wrote a piece on my site speculating why Cordain, who
has otherwise published some truly helpful material on Paleo
nutrition, is so hung up on cholesterol and saturated fats:
promptly recieved an email from a dedicated Cordain groupie in
Sydney objecting to my comments. What followed was an extended 3-way
exchange between myself, said groupie, and Cordain himself.
who is interested can check out the exchange at:
Can anyone help me with logical flow and influences?
A Does It neglect
the effects of domestication and society leading to cooking and a
change in dietary patterns (albeit with the dental evidence for
caries - from the sugars released)?
B Primitive man had
a much shorter lifespan than to-day and therefore his diet might not
necessarily have been optimal. However his exercise habits are to be
copied.... remember "fat and fit is better than lean and lazy"
C This may also be
seen by the increase in height with time as evidence for improved
D Therefore one
cannot extrapolate from the ancestral diet to today's circumstances.
Anthony - An excellent rebuttal of Cordain's ideas. Should be read
problem with Cordain is that the basis of his theory has nothing
with science to do as it is impossible to falsify. As I have said
before (see Discussion section on our website: About the cavemen´s
diet) we will never learn what our ancestors ate in the caves or
elsewhere, in particular not how much. Neither will we learn if
their diet was beneficial or harmful to their health. Said that, I
think it is a good idea to stick to natural food undisturbed by the
reason why Cordain is obsessed with cholesterol and sat.fat. may be
that this is the price for being accepted by the establishment. Some
of us know what it means not to be obediant.
the Boulderfest 2005 in July Cordain is appointed as a speaker
together with Frank Hu, Duane, myself and many others, go to
am looking forward to an interesting panel discussion
correction. I didn´t mean that Anthony has rebutted all Cordain´s
ideas – I meant of course his allegation that our ancestors ate
less animal fat and cholesterol.
short comment to Elliot. I just read a paper by a Swedish
archeologist, Kerstin Lidén. She claimed that the mean length of
male gatherer-hunterers was about 166 cm, for female ones about 156
cm, in support of your objection. One of her other arguments against
Cordain is that paleolithic time was about 2 million years and that
there (of course) was an immense variation in these people´s diet.
This is also what has been observed among present days´ primitive
people. Which of their diets should we choose?
the improvement in longevity we enjoy today has occurred primarily
over the last century, and cannot be attributed to the abandonment
of Paleolithic nutrition, which occurred some 10,000 years ago.
In fact, Cohen and a whole host of others (Paleopathology at the
Origins of Agriculture. Eds: Cohen MN, Armelagos GJ. Academic Press,
New York, 1984.) have presented evidence suggesting that human
health took a turn for the worse with the onset of agriculture.
Based on what we know, the major causes of death among primitive
humans were infectious disease and violent death. This applies even
to many recent hunter-gatherer/nomad societies. Mann's autopsy study
of Masai men showed that the most common causes of death were "homicide"
and syphilis. The Masai were well-known for their war-like
attributes, raiding neighboring tribes, stealing their cattle and
women…if you live that kind of life, don't expect to live to a
ripe old age, no matter how fit you are or how much pristine free
range food you eat!
What is most telling from Mann's studies is that the Masai were in
far better physical condition and their cardiovascular systems were
far healthier than age-matched Americans. "Age-matched" is
the key word--if the Masai were able to combine the healthier
aspects of their lifestyle with a more sanitary and civilized mode
of living, then there is little reason to believe they would not
live as long if not longer than the average westerner.
Many members of this group are no doubt familiar with the work of
Weston A. Price, a quick read through Nutrition and Physical
Degeneration should dispel the myth that "primitive diets"
are somehow inferior to modern diets.
The longevity we enjoy today is primarily a result of improved
sanitation and hygienic living conditions. Our control over microbes
has progressed to the point where most of us are now living long
enough to die from other causes.
The fact that this technology did not exist back in the Paleolithic
is obviously no indictment of Paleolithic nutrition. In fact, if we
were to take a large group of today's largely unfit and unhealthy
westernized citizens and transport them back in time to the Stone
Age to fend for themselves, sans their emergency medical care,
prosthetics, visual aids, etc, etc, I think you would find that
their longevity would suddenly be drastically reduced!
One very important point that is typically overlooked is that the
Paleo era was also free of many other negative health
influences--chronic stress (Stone Age man did not rush off every
morning to catch the bus, did not have to work at a boring
unrewarding job for decades on end, did not stress over meeting
mortgage/car/college/alimony/widget-and-gadget repayments, etc, etc),
drug use, and alcohol abuse. His kids were not stuck in the
stupefying institutions we call schools, where they were pressured
to confirm to a bizarre array of mind-numbing and often downright
harmful trends adhered to by their peers.
He rose with the light and fell asleep soon after dark, rather than
pounding down his melatonin levels by flicking on the lights and
watching the replays until 3am. He exposed his skin to plenty of
vitamin D-producing sunshine or, if he lived in colder climates,
sought out fatty vitamin D-rich foods. Importantly, Paleolithic man
had no choice but to be physically active.
As Uffe has rightly pointed out, there is no "one" true
Paleo diet, as exact dietary composition would have varied widely
from one geographic location to another. There were however, a
number of common characteristics of Paleo nutrition, the major ones,
--complete lack of refined, processed, nutrient depleted pseudo
foods, which now comprise over two-thirds of our diet;
--lack of refined vegetable seed oils;
--a lower dietary ratio of omega-6:omega-3 EFAs;
--far higher concentration of beneficial micronutrients per ingested
calorie of food;
--minimal to nil consumption of refined carbohydrates (honey was
seasonally available in some areas);
--lack of calorie-containing beverages;
--absence of dairy products;
--absence of cereal grains and legumes;
While macronutrient composition would have ranged from hi-carb,
low-fat to hi-fat, lo-carb, I firmly believe from reviewing the
evidence that a far higher proportion of Paleo peoples would have
eaten higher protein and lower carb diets than those typically
consumed today. Cordain and his team have even conceded this point.
Unfortunately, they propagate the low-fat Paleo myth by pretending
that all Stone Agers lived off gazelles, caribou and kangaroos,
ignoring the evidence showing that humans were also prolific hunters
of Bison, Mammoths, Hippos, Rhinos, and other fat-rich game. They
also ignore the mountain of evidence showing that saturates are not
responsible for the evils they are frequently accused of--nor do
they consider the evidence linking saturates to decreased free
radical stress and thrombosis.
our review of Cordain's book, see
Nothing new to most of you, but this paper illustrates once more the
fact that Cordain's science, although refreshing in many respects, is
severely biased by the cholesterol myth.
is most telling from Mann's studies is that the Masai were in far
better physical condition and their cardiovascular systems were far
healthier than age-matched Americans"
a reminder, though, the traditional Masai diet consisted of six
foods: meat, milk, animal blood, animal fat, tree bark, and honey.
think attention has to be paid to dietary products. The milk of
domestic animals (cows, yaks, camels, goats, sheep, horses, zebu,
buffalo, reindeer to name a few) has been part of human diet from
the instant animals were domesticated.Therefore I feel skeptical
about the statement:
There were however, a number of common characteristics of Paleo
nutrition, the major ones, IMHO, being….absence of dairy products;"
In defence of Anthony, another wanderer Down Under, may I quote
Ancel Keys when confronted with the objection to his new-fangled
Masai? Well, err, uh, eh, well, now, that is to say, ahemm, uh, they
must be, err, they ARE genetically different."
is not a direct quote but should work as a quick bail out.
Herbert and others: Your comments are right on the point to dispel
the myth that modern foods have increased longevity. The major
factor is reduction of infant mortality, mostly due to infectious
disease, which would play a huge role
in the reduction of the average age. In the US this is easily found
on the CDC website. I used some of that information in "Life
Without Bread" (US version) back in 1999.
when I have discussions with low-fat proponents, they still agree
that the average age increase is due primarily to reduction in
it must be kept in mind that the consumption of dairy products began
around the same time as grain cultivation, when humans began to
domesticate animals--i.e. at the end of the Paleolithic.
Masai reportedly began cattle herding some ten milennia ago, their
cattle are the primitive-looking zebu variety which yield A2 milk,
the 'original' milk. The fat content of their milk is twice that of
the western variety.
for the tree bark and honey, Mann reported that Masai warriors
between the age of 15-30 had to adhere strictly to the meat and milk
diet. Mann reported that cattle blood was used to supplement the
diet mainly during the dry season when the cattle were not producing
as much milk (nowadays they could just pump in some good ol'
Monsanto rBGH and keep the white stuff flowing, mastitis be damned!).
Others have also claimed that the blood aspect of the Masai diet has
been overemphasized because of its novelty factor. According to
Mann's autopsy results, the warrior phase seemed to be correlated
with little progression of atherosclerosis.
with consuming the A2 variety (which reportedly forms smaller curds
in the gut) I also understand that much of the milk consumed by the
Masai was in cultured form, as it quickly began to sour when poured
into gourds in the hot African sun.
for the role of dairy in a healthy diet, there are many people who
seem to do fine consuming milk and there are those who are clearly
better off not consuming any dairy at all. I fall into the latter
category, courtesy of food sensitivities I picked up during my
hi-carb days. If, however, I was able to consume dairy, I would
almost certainly consume butter, as I believe the literature shows
dairy fats to be cardioprotective (plus it smells so damn good when
its melting...sigh!). Butter's low protein and lactose content
should also pose little problem to most people. If I was able to
consume dairy, a little voice inside tells me that the occasional
tub of ice-cream might just find its way into my house...purely for
guests of course...seriously...truly...
It is correct that domestication of animals, and with it
the consumption of milk and its products, began with the cultivation
of grains, about 10 000 years ago.
I want to point out that dairy
products were not unique to the Masai. All manner of beasts were
milked in Europe, as elsewhere. Like in the Masai in recent times,
most of the milk was consumed after it had been allowed to go sour,
a product we would identify as yogurt. This is not the same as the
yogurt currently marketed in the western world. Cream taken from
the soured milk was used to make butter, and butter has good
keeping properties. Simple churning of fresh cream gives the
equivalent of whipped cream, it does not give butter. Cream that
has been allowed to "ripen" will show separation of fat
and water when churned. This was practiced throughout the world
until the advent of refrigeration at the beginning of the 20th
century when food handling techniques were changed in the
There are a number of consequences in
allowing milk to sour. One is that lactose is broken down so that
this product can be consumed by people with a mild degree of
lactose intolerance. I suspect that mild lactose intolerance is as
common in the Masai as it is in other parts of Africa, but the
Masai must be able to tolerate sour milk which is a part of
their basic diet. Sour milk is commonly consumed to
this day in many parts of Africa.
Another consequence of leaving milk
fat to sour is that the cholesterol contained therein undergoes
some spontaneous oxidation, forming oxysterols. Oxysterols have
the property of preventing crystallization of cholesterol from
supersaturated solution. I believe it is the crystallization of
cholesterol from the plasma lipids that are deposited in the
arterial intima that renders that cholesterol atherogenic; and
that adequate oxysterols in the diet could prevent that from
I should add that meat has been
preserved for millenia by allowing it to dry in the air.The same
oxidative changes occur in the cholesterol in meat
In my view, the critical change in the
human diet with relevance to atherogenesis was the alteration in
food handling techniques allowed by refrigeration, introduced in
the developed world early in the 20th century. This
inadvertently largely eliminated the spontaneous generation of
oxysterols in foods of animal origin, removing these compounds
from the human diet.