Nora Gedgaudas

The ‘dangers’ of The Paleo Way

The ‘dangers’ of The Paleo Way

It seems the promotion of the oldest approach to diet and lifestyle the human species has ever known —an approach that promotes organic and naturally raised whole, natural and unprocessed foods – is under attack by those who profess to know better than Mother Nature. The Paleo approach to diet and lifestyle is seen by a few proponents of mainstream food pyramids, dietary guidelines and multinational interests as “dangerous and unproven”; and vicious accusations are mounting.

It seems the promotion of the oldest approach to diet and lifestyle the human species has ever known —an approach that promotes organic and naturally raised whole, natural and unprocessed […]

It seems we may have hit upon a raw nerve.

In an article published in an Australian newspaper blasting those promoting a Paleo way of eating as “dangerous” and (get this) “unproven” (well—seemingly unproven AFTER we managed to survive and thrive as a species on it for over 2 million years, that is). One mainstream dietician flatly claims there is “no scientific evidence to support eating the Paleo way.”[1]   WOW. Yep—there’s no scientific evidence at all…unless of course you bother to actually look for it. In my book Primal Body, Primal Mind I supply roughly 100 pages of references (the majority of which are peer reviewed) supporting the way of eating I describe in the book in considerable detail.

To be fair, there are almost too many different versions of what is popularly being referred to as “the Paleo diet” being bandied about on the Internet and throughout the blogosphere. It is easy to understand the temptation towards cynicism in light of some of what’s out there.   There are admittedly more than a few enterprising individuals on the Internet seeking to cash in on what appears to be a popular trend through marketing hyperbole, baseless recommendations, personal theories and snake oil. –Even junk food! Some versions of what are being called “Paleo diets” admittedly defy both evolution and logic altogether.

Some of the more logical versions of the Paleo diet based on certain scholarly anthropological evidence are mainly carnivorous in focus and almost entirely protein-based (minimizing most plant foods altogether), some promote eating only raw meats and vegetables, some promote eating only “lean meats” (courting mainstream low-fat dogmas in their approach); some promote the consumption of starchy roots and tubers, lots of fruit and natural sugars more (like honey and maple syrup). I’ve even seen some convoluted versions of the Paleo diet that included tofu on the menu (one has to wonder what some people are smoking). There is a research basis for many of these aforementioned approaches (save the tofu one), though the reasoning behind the desirability of adopting these particular approaches is highly debatable in light of further analyses and frequently based on erroneous assumptions. I cover this in considerable depth in Primal Body, Primal Mind.

To me, in determining the manner of eating that is best for us it is additionally important to take the world we live in today into account, along with findings in human longevity research (an advantage our most primitive ancestors lacked) so that these foundational evolutionary principles may be applied in the most beneficial way. In my mind, just because we put something in our mouths once upon a time and managed to survive in spite of it isn’t necessarily the best reason to adopt the exact same thing today.   This is why the subtitle to my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind is “Beyond the Paleo Diet For Total Health and A Longer Life.”   Those foods we would have eaten as an evolving species the most consistently along the way, however, certainly establishes a basis for what we are actually designed to consume. To me this is an essential starting place—and frankly the only rational starting place. Modern-day science (at its honestly funded, objective best) gives us the considerable advantage of being able to take this information and tweak it to our more optimal benefit.

Nonetheless, some versions of the Paleo diet are decidedly better validated for their health effects and evolutionary viability than others. This needs to be openly acknowledged as an understandable source of confusion and misdirected contention.

This, therefore, begs the question as to what is specifically being referred to through the wholesale mainstream criticism of “The” Paleo diet, as few critics have even bothered to base their comments on what we have been presenting through the version of evolutionary-based eating we have been presenting via The Paleo Way or in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind as actual recommendations. Judging by some of the “official” mainstream-sanctioned remarks, the critics clearly haven’t even bothered to look at our message.

As for referring to an evolutionary approach to eating as somehow “dangerous”, it is clear that there is a disconnect between the critics (many clearly showing their emotional, economic and political biases…One might ask, “dangerous to whom or what?”—Industry profits, perhaps?) and the bulk of the peer-reviewed evidence at hand:

A peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Research Reports in Cardiology in 2011 had this to say when it comes to an overall Paleo approach to health in its abstract:

“It is increasingly recognized that certain fundamental changes in diet and lifestyle that occurred after the Neolithic Revolution, and especially after the Industrial Revolution and the Modern Age, are too recent, on an evolutionary time scale, for the human genome to have completely adapted. This mismatch between our ancient physiology and the western diet and lifestyle underlies many so-called diseases of civilization, including coronary heart disease, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, epithelial cell cancers, autoimmune disease, and osteoporosis, which are rare or virtually absent in hunter–gatherers and other non-westernized populations. It is therefore proposed that the adoption of diet and lifestyle that mimic the beneficial characteristics of the preagricultural environment is an effective strategy to reduce the risk of chronic degenerative diseases.”[2]


The Paleo Way, as promoted by myself, Pete Evans and Luke Hines, seeks to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions associated with the aforementioned approaches and aligns its recommendations with the most current scientific findings in areas like human longevity research, as well as other very current, nutritionally and medically-relevant research. The Paleo Way approach also seeks to make its recommendations as relevant as possible to the rather uniquely inhospitably toxic and hazardous world we are all living in today.

We have to take certain compensatory steps for our health and well being our ancestors didn’t need to make given the challenges of the industrialised world most of us inhabit now.

It is admittedly somewhat difficult to promote this valid concept or it’s principles in its purest and most useful essence while there are purveyors of pseudo “Paleo-like” approaches promoting every manner of processed “carb substitutes”, protein powders, candy bars, and “Paleo” labeled packaged processed foods that are sometimes barely any better than any other kind of processed food.  Let’s face it: an organic, gluten-free brownie made with “all natural sugars” with a caveman stamped on the label of the cellophane wrapper is still basically more-or-less junk food and something our ancestors never would have recognized as edible. One cannot deny the fad-like image surrounding this sort of thing. It is not, however, what The Paleo Way as we present it is seeking to promote.

It’s also important to point out that the Paleo diet is far from being a single subject but is instead a mosaic of interrelated topics identifying what does and what doesn’t constitute a healthy diet or lifestyle based on our physiological makeup–which was forged, I might add by our evolutionary history and the selective pressures which shaped it–and our most basic, foundational nutritional requirements; that emerged through the same evolutionary process. A truly Paleolithic approach to eating based on modern day applicable principles from our past is in absolute alignment with the most current research related to endocrinology and metabolism, cardiovascular health, brain health, advancements in immunologic research, health and fitness.


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to acknowledge that certain dietary principles exercised consistently for 2 1/2 million years or more would logically serve to not only establish our human physiological makeup, but also our most fundamental nutritional requirements. There are quite literally thousands upon thousands of papers published on the subject of what it is our ancestors ate over hundreds of thousands of years and more by paleoanthropologists and other researchers. Stable isotopic research using a ratio mass spectrometer conducted through the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany by researchers such as Dr. Michael Richards and others have yielded a plethora of peer-reviewed articles and publications that leave little doubt as to what it is our ancestors have and haven’t been eating for roughly 2,000,000 years+. The results are startling to some, but essentially undeniable. This is a well-established, rigorous, non-disputed science with no biased financial interests or agendas. Stable isotopes of both carbon and nitrogen occur in varying proportions in different foods, and these proportions are passed along to the animals, including humans, that ate these foods.  By knowing the proportions of the stable isotopes in various foods, we can determine what these foods were by analyzing the stable isotopes in human collagen.

At least a couple of things are abundantly clear from the enormous body of stable isotopic research:

1) Humans have eaten a diet richly and foundationally based on mostly animal source foods throughout countless millennia of our long, pre-agricultural evolutionary history. No evidence to date has suggested otherwise. Furthermore, animal protein is almost always associated with naturally occurring fat – and while we had the Pleistocene megafauna available (that died out only about 10,000 years ago) this would have amounted to enormous amounts of fat – so it is unlikely we would have had the capacity or urge to serve baked potatoes alongside our woolly mammoth steaks.

Mind you, as omnivores, we would have partaken of whatever we had available as nourishment of some form or another in order to survive. We certainly would have foraged for a large variety of plant foods along the way, including (on occasion) some cereal grasses. One thing is for certain and beyond dispute, however: there is no evidence whatsoever anywhere in the human fossil record to suggest that we were ever vegetarians or that grains ever even played any significant role in our diets prior to the agricultural revolution. In fact, stable isotopic signatures consistently showed an even more carnivorous signature among our ancient ancestors remains then did the bone collagen isotopes of wolves, bears, fox’s and other carnivores of these same time periods.[3] In all likelihood, this had to do with the fact that we had developed advanced hunting skills and technologies that allowed us to successfully hunt Pleistocene megafauna– some of which weighed in excess of 10,000 kg— which other carnivores would have lacked. Let’s face it–if we brought down a fat and sassy woolly mammoth we would have had a family barbecue that probably would have lasted more than a week! And in the wild, everything is about feast or famine. When we had something to eat, we ate as much of it as we could. –I’m not, however, saying that eating slabs and slabs of meat is what we should be doing now (in fact, the approach to Paleo that I write about in Primal Body, Primal Mind advocates a very moderate approach to protein consumption–modifying what we know our ancestors did with what human longevity research tells us is a more optimal way to apply these evolutionary principles). The Paleo Way as we present it is NOT a “high protein” diet! We aim to OPTIMIZE basic Paleo principles in a way our ancestors didn’t know how to!

2) NO ISOTOPE RESULTS SHOWED PROTEIN PRESENT THAT SUGGEST ANY MEANINGFUL CONSUMPTION OF GRAINS by us throughout Paleolithic times, prior to the end of the last Ice Age. Grains would not have been consumed by us, therefore, in any significant way until extremely recently (just the last few thousand years). Therefore, they simply cannot be essential to our health— and they aren’t. To put it mildly.

3) Furthermore, there is no evidence anywhere in any textbook of medicine or physiology to suggest that there is any human dietary requirement for carbohydrate foods at all—particularly with respect to sugars and starch. Although fiber is additionally non-essential, dietary fiber is more than plentiful for those that want it through fibrous, non-starchy vegetables and greens. A well-balanced and optimized Paleo diet is anything but a low fiber diet.

(In short, NOT good)

The fact is that grains were never originally cultivated for their health promoting properties. From the moment humans began cultivating them roughly 10,000 years ago they began deteriorating the health of those that consumed them. Grain consuming Neolithic peoples lost physical stature, brain size, bone density, dental health, and saw an increase in birth defects, coupled with losing literally half their life expectancy.   Grains were anything but in advancement for the health of our species.

So why did we decide to actually start cultivating and eating them more? Well, along with being faced with the die-out of a major food source for us at the end of the last Ice Age, the Pleistocene megafauna, the hardiness of these grain-based crops and the ability to store them for longer periods of time were probably attractive. –So was the fact that we could ferment them into beer. Grains also contain naturally occurring morphine-like compounds (called exorphins) —which stimulate opioid receptors in the brain–that likely added to their narcotic-like appeal.. In other words, it’s a good bet that we most likely adopted them in a big way simply became addicted to them. In fact, it was a couple of Australian biologists that have advanced the theory that we cultivated wheat in the first place for this very reason.[4]

Wadley and Martin wrote:

Indeed, an increasing array of arguments over recent years has suggested that agriculture, far from being a natural and upward step, in fact led commonly to a lower quality of life. Hunter-gatherers typically do less work for the same amount of food, are healthier, and are less prone to famine than primitive farmers (Lee & DeVore 1968, Cohen 1977, 1989). A biological assessment of what has been called the puzzle of agriculture might phrase it in simple ethological terms: why was this behaviour (agriculture) reinforced (and hence selected for) if it was not offering adaptive rewards surpassing those accruing to hunter-gathering or foraging economies?

This paradox is responsible for a profusion of models of the origin of agriculture. ‘Few topics in prehistory’, noted Hayden (1990) ‘have engendered as much discussion and resulted in so few satisfying answers as the attempt to explain why hunter/gatherers began to cultivate plants and raise animals. Climatic change, population pressure, sedentism, resource concentration from desertification, girls’ hormones, land ownership, geniuses, rituals, scheduling conflicts, random genetic kicks, natural selection, broad spectrum adaptation and multicausal retreats from explanation have all been proffered to explain domestication. All have major flaws … the data do not accord well with any one of these models.’

Recent discoveries of potentially psychoactive substances in certain agricultural products — cereals and milk — suggest an additional perspective on the adoption of agriculture and the behavioural changes (‘civilisation’) that followed it. In this paper we review the evidence for the drug-like properties of these foods, and then show how they can help to solve the biological puzzle just described.


The fact is, we are not becoming more adapted to these foods since the agricultural revolution—we are actually becoming LESS adapted to them—at an alarming rate!

A study published in 2009 in the peer reviewed journal, Gastroenterology[5] compared 10,000 available blood samples from individuals 50 years ago to 10,000 people today and found that there has literally been a 400% increase in the incidence of celiac disease, now thought to affect one in every 100 people, conservatively, and as many as one in 22 people related to others with this condition! One position statement made by representatives of the food industry in a recent article critical of the Paleo diet suggested this was somehow a “misleading finding” since it was “due to improved sensitivity of testing today.” This is wholly inaccurate. The same modern day testing was used for both sets of blood samples. Furthermore, yet another unrelated study had this to say (further refuting the desperate claims of Industry-funded critics):

The prevalence of Celiac Disease has increased five-fold overall since 1974. This increase was not due to increased sensitivity of testing, but rather due to an increasing number of subjects that lost the immunological tolerance to gluten in their adulthood.”[6] (bold emphasis added)

And: “It’s not just that we’re better at finding it,” says Dr. Joseph A. Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, speaking of celiac disease. “It truly has become more common.” [7] (bold emphasis mine, again)

If it were all just about Celiac Disease, things would be bad enough – but the issue goes well beyond this particular illness:

“It is now accepted that gluten sensitivity is a systemic illness that can manifest in a range of organ systems.”[8]

In another per reviewed article published in Lancet Neurology in 2010; the authors stated: “Coeliac disease, or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is only one aspect of a range of possible manifestations of gluten sensitivity.” [9]

Dr. Kennith Fine, MD had this to say: “…it is becoming apparent that the majority of the gluten sensitive population do not manifest villous atrophy in its classic, complete form and therefore do not have celiac disease. In these non-celiac, gluten sensitive individuals, the brunt of the immune reaction either affects the function of the intestine, causing symptoms without structural damage, affects other tissues of the body (and virtually all tissues have been affected in different individuals), or both.”[10]

In the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry one of the authors of this study states: “Our finding…implies that immune response triggered by sensitivity to gluten may find expression in organs other than the gut; and the central and peripheral nervous systems are particularly susceptible.”[11]

Also, autoimmunity (highly correlated with gluten exposure, together with other immune compromising dietary lectins/proteomes associated with post-agricultural foods and environmental elements of modern life) is exploding in a nearly epidemic fashion worldwide, and is currently recognized as the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the industrialized world—right behind cancer and heart disease.[12] This number may in fact be low, as the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) currently estimates that 53 million Americans currently suffer from autoimmunity, contrasting with 9 million that knowingly having cancer and 22 million having cardiovascular disease.   NIH statistics are similar. This puts autoimmunity at being more prevalent than both of the officially recognized top killers of people combined. Furthermore, the primary cause of death in a person with celiac disease is a cardiovascular event; and the second-most prevalent cause of death in a person with celiac disease is malignancy.[13] Gluten and its associated lectins found in grains – although certainly not always the cause – are still a known adverse contributing, exacerbative, as well as being a potentially causative factor in virtually all forms of autoimmunity.

This is a growing and very real public health catastrophe at a time where few can afford or find good health care (in a profit-oriented disease management paradigm).

And the fact that only roughly 1-3% of all gluten immune reactive persons are ever diagnosed says literally nothing about who is potentially diagnosable! The fact that physicians are taught that celiac disease is rare suggests few even bother screening for it. And the standards of medical diagnosis are utterly abysmal. One must have 100% total villous atrophy of the small intestine (as it is only officially recognized as a gastrointestinal disorder—another pervasive myth) in order to obtain a diagnosis of celiac disease—and fully 8 out of 10 actual celiac patients have no gastrointestinal symptoms at all. The fact is that roughly half of everyone having immune reactivity to gluten and/or dairy is also producing neurological antibodies. The most common target for gluten-related damage is not the gut—but the BRAIN. An article in the journal Neurology (Vol 56/No.3 Feb 13, 2005) states, “Gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times exclusively a neurological disease, affecting not only the brain and nervous system directly, but also cognitive and psychiatric illness.”[14]

In what was likely the largest epidemiological study related to celiac disease in the U.S. to date, more than 13,000 subjects in 32 states were screened for the associated antibodies. Those who tested positive underwent further blood tests and, when possible, a small-bowel biopsy to confirm the presence of celiac disease. The results, published in 2003, were stunning: 1 in every 133 people had celiac disease. And among those related to celiac patients, the rates were as high as 1 in 22. These statistics relate solely to enteropathic (gut-based) celiac disease, now recognized to be a mere fraction of those suffering the impact of non-enteropathic (outside the gut) celiac-related tissue damage. And celiac disease as whole comprises only about 12% of what actually constitutes a broader issue of gluten immune reactivity! We really are looking at a true epidemic!

“Gluten sensitivity affects 6 to 7 times more people than celiac disease, so the impact is tremendous.”
~Alessio Fasano, MD


Anyone who thinks avoiding grains is somehow “extreme” might need to consider their definition of the word. Automimmune disease is currently recognized as the #3 cause of morbidity and mortality in the industrialized world according to the WHO (right behind cancer and heart disease)—and gluten immune reactivity has been demonstrated throughout existing immunologic research to be either a potentially initiating or exacerbating factor in all of it. Interestingly, this estimation of autoimmune disease prevalence by the WHO might in fact be low, as both the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) and the NIH recognize that 53 million Americans are currently estimated to have some form of autoimmunity. This is in contrast with an estimated 9 million estimated to have cancer and another 22 million thought to have cardiovascular disease. Estimates for the prevalence of autoimmunity in this case are more than double both heart disease and cancer combined!

A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Sept 16; 302(11):1171-8) found that those with celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed had a significantly higher risk of death, particularly from heart disease and cancer.[15]

What’s more extreme? Simply avoiding potential consequences of non-essential grain consumption… Or playing Russian roulette?

Among the most insidious and abundant constituents of all grains (even gluten-free grains) are lectins. Lectins are a plant’s own version of a natural self-protective pesticide-like compound. Although lectins are found in a wide variety of plants they are found in their highest concentrations in grains and legumes of all kinds (not just the gluten-containing a variety). Large-scale agricultural practices have sought to increase the concentration of these toxic compounds in grains as a means of improving pest-resistance. And studies have shown that wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) can have adverse effects on the intestinal cells even at extremely low  “nanomolar” concentrations.

To quote Sayer Ji, brilliant researcher and founder of GreenMedInfo (the world’s largest and most referenced science-based health resource), “One must also account for the “invisible thorn,” which is wheat lectin – known more technically as Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) — and which can cause a broad range of adverse health effects, even while being undetected through conventional screenings. “ and “What is unique about WGA is that it can do direct damage to the majority of tissues in the human body without requiring a specific set of genetic susceptibilities and/or immune-mediated articulations. This may explain why chronic inflammatory and degenerative conditions are endemic to wheat-consuming populations even when overt allergies or intolerances to wheat gluten appear exceedingly rare.”


Clearly, in light of this study9 it becomes apparent that being “mostly” gluten free is the equivalent of saying you are “just a little bit pregnant”. There is no room for moderation where health consequences associated with gluten consumption are apparent (and confirmed by accurate testing through Cyrex Labs). Furthermore, just how much gut and/or blood-brain barrier compromise (with or without immune reactivity to gluten), inflammation, neurodegeneration, gastrointestinal damage or auto-antibody production should we all enjoy “in moderation”?

A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those with celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed had a significantly higher risk of death, particularly from heart disease and cancer. 12

What’s more extreme? Simply avoiding potential consequences of non-essential grain consumption… Or playing Russian roulette?

Among the most insidious and abundant constituents of all grains are lectins. Lectins are a plan’s own version of a natural self-protective pesticide-like compound (sort of like a plant’s version of teeth and claws). Although lectins are found in a wide variety of plants they are found in their highest concentrations in grains of all kinds (not just the gluten-containing a variety).   Large-scale agricultural practices have sought to increase the concentration of these toxic compounds in grains as a means of improving pest-resistance. And studies have shown that wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) can have adverse effects on the intestinal cells even at extremely low “nanomolar” concentrations![16]

But a diet high in lectins (i.e., whole grains) can adversely affect a lot more:

Locally, they can affect the turnover and loss of gut epithelial cells, damage the luminal membranes of the epithelium, interfere with nutrient digestion and absorption, stimulate shifts in the bacterial flora and modulate the immune state of the digestive tract. Systemically, they can disrupt lipid, carbohydrate and protein metabolism, promote enlargement and/or atrophy of key internal organs [like the pancreas and thymus], and alter the hormonal and immunological status. At high intakes, lectins can seriously threaten the growth and health of consuming animals.”[17]

Oh – and also dietary lectins that enter your blood can increase platelet activation and increase the likelihood of forming blood clots![18]

The fact is that no one that lives or breathes anywhere on this planet has any such thing as a “grain deficiency” (there literally is no such thing) but countless millions suffer unnecessarily due to the myriad of potentially devastating effects of dietary grains on their health, most of whom don’t even suspect the underlying culprit. –And (as clearly evidenced previously in this article in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Neuropsychiatry9) for a gluten immune-reactive individual even trace exposure is enough to have substantial and reverberating impact.

Is it really worth the risk?

So why is it that it seems we are becoming even less adapted to these foods over time rather than more adapted is one might reasonably expect?

The answers are likely multi-fold and may include the following:

  • Grains have always shown some detrimental effect upon human health since their earliest adoption in ancient Sumeria roughly 10,000 years ago.[19] These adverse effects seem to be becoming only more apparent with time. We have literally never genetically adapted to their consumption, which has only led to increased health consequences over time as our genome has weakened.

According to acclaimed Harvard researcher, Dr. Alessio Fasano (celiac disease researcher), no human being alive is capable of even digesting gluten (the protein found in grains). He said: “Although we’ve been eating wheat for thousands of years, we are not engineered to digest gluten. We are able to completely digest every protein we put in our mouths with the exception of one—and that’s gluten. Gluten is a weird protein. We don’t have the enzymes to dismantle it completely, leaving undigested peptides that can be harmful. The immune system may perceive them as an enemy and mount an immune response.”[20] This is one more reason why grains simply cannot be essential– much less meaningfully beneficial to anyone’s health. We suffered a marked decline in our physical stature, bone density, dental development, brain size (yes, brain size) and overall health, including also an increase in birth defects, infant mortality, malnutrition, and degenerative disease following the early implementation of an agricultural lifestyle. We also developed shorter lifespans and became more susceptible to anemia and infections following the shift from hunting and gathering to agricultural life. Paleoanthropologists know this well. There are a few paleoanthropologists that might stop short of advocating a Paleo diet to the general public, but we also need to consider that these scientists aren’t necessarily professional health advocates as a general rule, either. Anthropologists are as human as anyone else—just as likely to rationalize their own unhealthy/addictive consumption of modern day grains and processed fare while some others may insist upon being cynical about applying Paleolithic dietary principles to their own personal modern dietary practice for reasons having nothing to do with the veracity of the approach. Paleoanthropologists aren’t necessarily nutritionists—though there are also decidedly those within the anthropological community that do enthusiastically support this Paleolithic approach to eating. It’s a mixed bag.

  • We may be experiencing a weakened, more susceptible genome following the dawn of our dependence upon nutritionally inferior agricultural-based foods, the industrialization of our food supply, increased consumption of processed foods and dietary sugars, not to mention our increasing exposure to synthetic chemicals and environmental toxins (see the work of nutritional pioneers such as Francis Pottenger, MD[21]).
  • Greatly increasing environmental compromise (air/water pollution, depleted soils, GMO’s/genetic modification of the food supply, EMF pollution, radiation, fluoridation, poor diets, poor digestion, etc.)
  • Deamidation of wheat – produced by acid or enzymatic treatment of gluten. Gliadins are typically soluble in alcohol and cannot be mixed with other foods (like milk) without changing the foods’ qualities. Deamidated gliadin is soluble in water. The immunologic reactivity to deamidated α-/β-gliadin is even greater than regular α/β-gliadin and can result in symptomatic gluten immune reactivity. Once triggered, though, this reactivity is universally applicable to any form of gluten exposure and does not switch off.
  • Selection for more gluten in the grains by the food industry due to some of the desirable (by industry) characteristics gluten offers texturally to foods they manufacture.
  • Hybridization of grains and legumes invariably generate roughly 5% new proteins every time—creating a moving target for the human immune system that has never been allowed to properly adapt to these foods.


The bottom line is that we established most, if not all, of our dietary or physiological requirements long before the agricultural revolution, and those requirements have not changed.

The notion that we are somehow endangering ourselves by “eliminating a food group” (or perhaps more to the point, a food group promoted by a particular profit-oriented food lobby) is patently absurd. All actual nutrients contained within grains and legumes are available through many, many other, more “Paleo friendly” foods and are always better gotten elsewhere.   The pronounced phytic acid/phytate content in grains and legumes, for instance, tends to bind the minerals contained within them and make them largely unavailable to those consuming them. Mineral deficiencies, anemia and malnutrition, in fact, were a common consequence of those adopting the early agricultural lifestyle.[22]

There can literally be nothing more ridiculous than the assertion that every man woman and child should be consuming 6 to 11 servings of grains per day—Or ANY grains, whatsoever. No human people group in the evolutionary history of the human species has ever eaten a diet remotely resembling what modern day government guidelines (generated primarily by politics and economics) suggest as optimal. Furthermore, grains and legumes are what they feed to cattle to fatten them up. Given the preposterous and exponentially rising rates of obesity throughout the industrialized world, it seems we need to take this as a hint of what government guidelines have been doing for us all along. –In other words, nothing good (except for those reaping industry profits). All anyone needs to do to see in graphic detail what dietary government guidelines will do for the health of a population should pay a visit to a Native American reservation or Aboriginal community. The United States government’s version of “reparations “for the genocide committed against native people groups in the US includes supplying these people with “foods” based on USDA government guidelines. The results are there for anyone to see: rampant obesity, heart disease, diabetes and all other forms of metabolic disorder and degenerative illness, alcoholism, depression, and skyrocketing rates of suicide (remember, mental and physical health are always intertwined). Anyone willing to read a scholarly dissertation (or two) on the impact of agricultural foods (grains and legumes) on human health/disease should read “Health and the Rise of Civilization” and also “Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture” by research scholar, Mark Nathan Cohen. Just because we somehow discovered we could put these foods in our mouths over the last recent few thousands of years did not somehow mean they were suddenly beneficial for our health or that they are somehow (in any way) essential to us now. They are, however, highly profitable and they also conveniently (for the food industry) manage to keep us constantly hungry. Someone is clearly benefitting from all that but it is not those who actually habitually eat these foods.

“Your health is now brought to you by Wall Street. If you thought they hurt us with the banks, wait ’til you see what they are doing to our health care.”
Jeff Hays, from the documentary, “Bought”

We’ve been incorporating grains as a significant inclusion in our diets for no more than the last 0.4% of our total evolutionary history and have only ourselves altered genetically .005% from our pre-agricultural genetic makeup.[23] This has simply not been a significant enough amount of time to have reasonably adapted to this dietary inclusion. Respected geneticists, paleoanthropologists, biologists, and evolutionary theorists generally agree that genetically, modern-day humans are essentially identical to our prehistoric Paleolithic ancestors living anywhere from 40,000 to 200,000 years ago.

Lectins alone in these post agricultural foods (both those associated with gluten and others) have led to innumerable health detriments along the way[24] PLUS one can peruse roughly 11,485 additionally unflattering references to what wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) in grains can do to anyone consuming it on PubMed.[25]   Interestingly, WGA is not in any way neutralized through heating/cooking and, in fact becomes most concentrated during sprouting and is highest in those sprouted grain breads that are supposed to be so healthy for you. I’ll personally pass, thank you.

As for the idea that whole grains are supposedly important for preventing cancer, a look at the following study should be a bit sobering: A peer-reviewed article written by Alesio Fasano, MD in Physiology Reviews (2011) states: “Zonulin is the only physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions described so far that is involved in trafficking of macromolecules and, therefore, in tolerance/immune response balance. When the finely tuned zonulin pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders (i.e., cancer) can occur.”[26] (italicized term added)

By the way, all gluten consumption stimulates gut-and blood-brain barrier compromising zonulin release—even in a person not immunologically reactive to it! And wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) –a particularly damaging lectin found in wheat–doesn’t even require a zonulin mechanism to breach our blood brain barrier and do damage there.

The author also goes on to say: “In the small intestine, gluten triggers the release of zonulin, a protein that regulates the tight junctions between epithelial cells and therefore intestinal, but also blood-brain barrier function. Recent evidence suggests that overstimulation of zonulin in susceptible individuals could dysregulate intercellular communication promoting tumorigenesis at specific organ sites” (bold emphasis mine).

The author then goes on to suggest a Paleo diet as a possible solution:

Paleolithic-type diets, that by definition exclude grain products, have been shown to improve glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors more effectively than typically recommended low-fat diets rich in whole grains.”

Fasano also lists diseases that are known to have increased levels of zonulin as an important biomarker:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Diseases of the nervous system
  • Neoplastic disease (i.e., cancer)

The fact is that cancer is essentially a disease of modern (post-agricultural) civilization and has been found to be virtually absent in non-grain consuming primitive hunter-gatherer populations. (yes, even including colorectal cancer).

We have been conditioned to hear the words “healthy whole grains”— almost as though they were all one word and an unquestionable concept. Cereals, bread, pasta, crackers and innumerable processed foods made from grains have been promoted by mainstream dietitians, nutritionists and government agencies as being critically foundational to our health, supposedly earning their venerated place at the base of government guideline pyramids. In light of this, it begs the question as to why our healthcare system is collapsing under the suffocating weight of rampant obesity and all other forms of chronic disease, widespread neurodegenerative/cognitive issues, metabolic disorder, and other degenerative conditions– not to mention cancers (projected to increase 70% over the next 20 years by the World Health Organization[27]. Mental health in modern society is not faring any better and the WHO has also suggested that by the year 2020 depression will be the greatest health burden in the world. Well…guess what (according to the journal of Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics) the single most common neuropsychiatric disturbance associated with gluten immune-reactivity happens to be? Yep—you guessed it! –Depression.[28]

One study, published in 2010 in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology found that even those who do not present symptoms of celiac disease may have antigliadin antibodies, which was found to increase the risk of depression in elderly individuals. But gluten has also been highly correlated with other mood and cognitive related disturbances, including anxiety, schizophrenia, ADD, bipolar disorder and even dementia. In fact, markedly increased immune sensitivity to gluten has also been reported in schizophrenic patients, and the connection between gluten intolerance and schizophrenia has been established for over 30 years![29], [30] Additionally, wheat, dairy, and soy contain exceptionally high levels of glutamic and aspartic acid, which makes them all potentially excitotoxic.  Excitotoxicity is a pathological process where glutamic and aspartic acid cause an over-activation of your nerve cell receptors, which can lead to calcium-induced nerve and brain injury. These two amino acids may contribute to neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease, and other nervous system disorders such as epilepsy, ADD/ADHD and migraines.

The Unites States government, alone spends over $20 billion dollars per year actually subsidizing the cultivation of some of the least nutritious and least healthy (but most profitable) crops possible. Grains are a powerful economic force worldwide and form the largest basis behind the stranglehold that big agribusiness has over virtually every world government.


Apart from the aforementioned under-recognized behemoth of gluten-immune reactivity and the innumerable detriments associated with lectins like WGA, grains are additionally completely devoid of docosahexanoic acid (22:6n3/DHA) AND arachidonic acid (20:4n6/AA), which are critically necessary structural fatty acids required for the synthesis of brain and neural tissues. Furthermore, grains are primarily a starch-based food—and all starches are sugar once they hit your bloodstream.

Here’s a sobering fact: The #1 preferred food for all cancers is sugar, plain and simple. This is well known, but it turns out that that’s not all. In fact, in a newly published article on the Green Med Info web site, Sayer Ji writes:

“A groundbreaking new study, uncovered by one of our volunteer researchers at Greenmedinfo – Jonathan Middleton – is the first of its kind to identify sugar, not only as the fuel source for an already existing cancer, but as a primary driver in oncogenesis – i.e. the initiation of cancerous characteristics (phenotype) within previously healthy cells.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and titled,Increased sugar uptake promotes oncogenesis via EPAC/RAP1 and O-GlcNAc pathways”, researchers addressed a common perception (or misperception) in the cancer research community regarding sugar’s relationship to cancer: namely, “increased glycolysis [sugar based metabolism] is frequently viewed as a consequence of oncogenic events that drive malignant cell growth and survival.”[31]

Contrary to this conventional view, the new study “provide[s] evidence that increased glycolytic activation itself can be an oncogenic event…” That is to say, the activation of sugar-based metabolism in a cell – driven by both the presence of increased quantities of glucose and the increase glucose receptors on the cell membrane surface (i.e. “overexpression of a glucose transporter”) – drives cancer initiation.

Moreover, the study found that “Conversely, forced reduction of glucose uptake by breast cancer cells led to phenotypic reversion.” In other words, interfering with sugar availability and uptake to the cell causes the cancer cell to REVERSE towards its pre-cancer structure-function (phenotype).

The author goes on to say:

It has been estimated by the USDA[32] that the average American consumes 200 lbs of grain products annually. Why is this relevant to the question of sugar in the diet? Because refined carbohydrate products – e.g. crackers, bread, pasta, and cereal – are actually ‘hidden’ forms of sugar. In fact, puffed rice causes your blood to become sweeter (and presumably feeds more cancer cells sugar) than white sugar, as it is higher on the glycemic index. Adding the two figures together – annual per capita consumption of sugar and grain-based products – we get a jaw dropping 360 lbs of sugar (both overt (table sugar/high fructose corn syrup) and covert (grain carbs) annually – all of which may contribute to promoting the ideal metabolic situation of cancer cells: aerobic glycolysis.

This is one reason why the ketogenic diet – that is, a fat- and protein-focused diet devoid of carbohydrate, both in simple (sugar) and complex (grain product) form – has been found so useful in the most aggressive of cancers: including brain cancer. Once you ‘pull the rug out’ from under the sugar/carb-craving cancer cells, they are forced to either undergo programmed cell death (apoptosis) or re-differentiate back into non-cancerous phenotypes.”


Also, a diet having significant dietary sugars and starch stimulates excess insulin (also a critical vector for cancer development), inflammation, free radical activity and mitochondrial damage.   Processed cereal grains can stimulate higher blood sugar and insulin spikes than a candy bar! There is no refuge from colorectal or any other form of cancer with a starch-based diet.[33],[34]

There are a smattering of observational studies seemingly demonstrating some protective value with respect to colorectal cancer and grain consumption, but even the researchers admit:

“There are also potential limitations of our findings… As in any observational study, our results could be influenced, at least in part, by differences between participants in factors other than whole grain consumption. In general, women with a high consumption of whole grains consumed more fruits and vegetables, which may reflect a generally healthy lifestyle.”[35]

The benefits attributed to grains in this study were associated particularly with hard whole rye bread and only to a lesser degree other grains.

Does this make dietary grains essential for anyone?? Not even close! One other study found the supposedly colorectal-protective effects of grains to be merely “modest”.[36]

According to statistics from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center[37], an average of one out of every 133 otherwise healthy people in the United States suffers from CD. However, an estimated 20-30 percent of the world’s population may carry the genetic susceptibility to celiac disease—and the way to avoid turning these genes ‘on’ is by avoiding gluten.

When you consider that undiagnosed celiac disease is associated with a nearly four-fold increased risk of premature death, the seriousness of this food sensitivity becomes quite evident. The primary disease mechanism at play is chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammatory and degenerative conditions are endemic to grain-consuming populations.

However, other rampant health afflictions include depression, ADD/ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease, just to name a few. As it turns out, excessive wheat consumption may play a significant role here as well. In fact, there’s evidence suggesting that gluten sensitivity may be at the root of many neurological- and psychiatric conditions.[38],[39],[40],[41],[42],[43],[44],[45],[46],[47],[48],[49],[50]

The so-called “protective” or supposedly “healthy” effects of dietary grains need to be balanced against the weight of considerable risk associated with grain consumption. Lowered cancer-risk in one area is readily tempered by considerably enhanced cancer-risk in many other areas.

Breads and cereals have also been significantly linked with an increase in prostate cancer and renal cell carcinomas.[51],[52]

The avid consumption of whole grains was certainly anything but cancer-preventing for Aveline Kushi, founder of the macrobiotic diet (and, ironically the author of “The Macrobiotic Cancer Prevention Cookbook”) which promoted heavy consumption of whole grains. She was ultimately diagnosed with and died of cervical cancer.[53]

As if gluten and lectins weren’t enough of a reason to avoid grains on their own, these dietary cereal grasses also contain two known toxins of the benzoxazinoid class, abbreviated DIMBOA and DIBOA (I’ll spare you the much longer chemical name).  These toxins induce mutations in DNA and RNA, which also may decidedly induce cancer cells[54] These substances are actually found in the highest concentrations in sprouted grains (the supposedly healthiest ones).

And then there are all the other cancers and their relation to a carbohydrate-based diet (which a grain-based diet also happens to be). A large-scale review was published in the journal of Nutrition and Metabolism related to the role of carbohydrates and cancer.[55]

In this article the authors stated: “Over the last years, evidence has accumulated suggesting that by systematically reducing the amount of dietary carbohydrates (CHO) one could suppress, or at least delay, the emergence of cancer, and that proliferation of already existing tumor cells could be slowed down.”

This important article went on to say:

“In this context, it is important to note that a low CHO diet offers further possibilities to target inflammation through omission or inclusion of certain foods. Usually, CHO restriction is not only limited to avoiding sugar and other high-GI foods, but also to a reduced intake of grains. Grains can induce inflammation in susceptible individuals due to their content of omega-6 fatty acids, lectins and gluten [159,160]. In particular gluten might play a key role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders and some malignant diseases. In the small intestine, gluten triggers the release of zonulin, a protein that regulates the tight junctions between epithelial cells and therefore intestinal, but also blood-brain barrier function. Recent evidence suggests that overstimulation of zonulin in susceptible individuals could dysregulate intercellular communication promoting tumorigenesis at specific organ sites [161].” (bold emphasis added).


Let’s just say that dietary grains also didn’t do Ötzi any favors.

Who was “Ötzi”, you ask?

Also known as “The Iceman”, Ötzi was a Neolithic/postagricultural mummy that breathed his last breath about 5,300 years ago. He was discovered melting out of an Alpine glacier back in 1991. He had apparently suffered arteriosclerosis, as well as significant and advanced dental disease. In short, he was a medical mess. They also happened to find him with grains stuck in his teeth (apparently part of his last meal)[56]. His remains showed numerous problems consistent with other remains of post-agricultural humans discovered and studied by paleoanthropologists[57]. In fact, almost any paleoanthropologist worth his or her salt is able to tell almost at a glance weather a particular set of remains belonged to a pre-agricultural (Paleolithic) or post agricultural, grain-eating (Neolithic) human– based simply on the number of skeletal abnormalities present, signs of dental disease, as well as things like blunted stature, reduced cranium size and bone density measures. Poor Ötzi was typical of early humans adopting agricultural lifestyle—An agricultural lifestyle, I might add, that has since then progressively deteriorated to this very day in its implementation and health effects through nutrient depletion of soils, widespread herbicide and pesticide use, excessive hybridization and genetic modification (GMO’s).

The fact is that the average 21st century human would be lucky to be “as healthy” as the medically compromised Iceman.


The presence wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) may prove to be every bit is formidable an enemy to health as the gluten that goes with it.

According to researcher Sayer Ji, founder of GreenMed Info:

“What is unique about WGA is that it can do direct damage to the majority of tissues in the human body without requiring a specific set of genetic susceptibilities and/or immune-mediated articulations. This may explain why chronic inflammatory and degenerative conditions are endemic to wheat-consuming populations even when overt allergies or intolerances to wheat gluten appear exceedingly rare. The future fate of wheat consumption and, by implication, our health, may depend largely on whether or not the toxic qualities of WGA come to light within the general population.” [58]

Lectins are designed by nature to withstand degradation through a wide range of pH and temperatures. WGA lectin is particularly tough because it’s actually formed by disulfide bonds that give enormous strength and resilience.

Also, because lectins are so small and hard to digest, they tend to bioaccumulate in your body, where they can interfere with biological processes. Wheat germ agglutinin is particularly troublesome in this regard. Studies indicate it has a number of health-harming characteristics and activities.

Even in very small doses, wheat germ agglutenin has been demonstrated through a multitude of research investigations to carry with it the following potential health risks:

Wheat Germ Agglutinin (ALL by itself) is:

Convinced yet?

Wheat Germ Agglutinin may additionally:

  • Interfere with your healthy gene expression[74],[75]
  • Disrupt your endocrine (hormonal) function[76],[77]
  • Adversely affect your gastrointestinal function[78]
  • Wheat germ agglutinin is capable of crossing your blood-brain barrier all on its own (even in the absence of immune reactivity to gluten)[79] and block the protective effect of nerve growth factor, effectively damaging your brain.[80]

Russian roulette, anyone? Please pass the breadbasket….


The idea that a diet most closely aligned to more than 100,000 generations of our evolutionary history and our overwhelmingly dominant genetic makeup; a diet that avoids processed foods, common dietary antigens, pesticides and herbicides and nutrient devoid foods and a diet that embraces sustainably produced foods in their whole, most nutrient-dense, natural state would somehow be antithetical to health is a patent absurdity. It may be antithetical food industry, pharmaceutical and big agribusiness profits, but it is anything but “dangerous” to human health.


In short, NOT so. Our Paleolithic ancestors were fully capable of living every bit as long as we do today, only typically without the kinds of degenerative diseases that typify our modern society. These averages included infant mortality. The primary cause of death in our most primitive ancestors was essentially accident and infection. In part, what we are measuring when we compare their longevity with ours today is the relative hostility of our two environments. Our most prehistoric ancestors did not live in climate-controlled environments, comfortably insulated from extreme heat and/or cold or protection from the elements that we casually enjoy today. Interestingly, however, once we adopted agriculture and grains as a new staple human life expectancy actually precipitously declined to an average of only 20 years— it was literally cut in half![81] In fact, between the Neolithic Revolution and the late 18th century human life expectancy never exceeded roughly 25 years! What basically improved longevity in more modern times sure as heck wasn’t our back-breaking, health-compromising agricultural lifestyle, but instead (apart from protection from the elements and predators) better technology, sanitation, and modern economic growth.[82]

Another thing to consider is that chronic diseases– although they clearly lead to higher mortality rates typically later in life– generally begin much earlier in life and then progress over often many decades. If one does an age-matched comparison between modern industrialized people groups and Hunter-gatherer groups one is able to plainly see a plethora of biomarkers related to chronic degenerative illness (including obesity, and other diseases related to metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis and elevated blood pressure) in those representing modern society that are either rare or completely absent in hunter- gatherers.[83]

Furthermore, among age-matched elderly populations (60-years of age and older) in both groups one sees virtually no sign of chronic, degenerative diseases among elderly hunter-gatherer populations.[84] Also, muscular strength and aerobic power are consistently greater among hunter-gatherer groups– and it isn’t because they are spending all day in the gym![85]

Nowadays you don’t even have to be over 30 to find yourself in real trouble. According to new findings from a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, people today are being diagnosed with disease 33 percent faster than their grandparents. Age 30 has become the new 45 in reference to on-setting disease[86]. Looking at 6,000 adults aged 20, 30, 40, 50 over a 25-year period, researchers found younger generations had poorer ‘metabolic’ health – a range of issues including blood pressure and weight. The study revealed men in their 30s were 20 per cent more likely to be overweight than in previous generations, while women in their 20s are twice as likely to be obese than those 10 years ago. Blood pressure also increased among the younger generation of both men and women, while younger males are more likely to have diabetes than their fathers and grandfathers were. The researchers found that overall, the more recently born adult generations are doing far worse than their predecessors.

  • Today’s adults are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes because of poor health
  • Men in their 30s were 20% more likely to be overweight than in previous generations, according to the study
  • Women in their 20s are twice as likely to be obese

This is all new—and NOT because we suddenly began consuming more animal-based foods! More than 25 percent of all children and teens in the United States take prescription drugs on a regular basis![87]

Also, according to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC):

Today in 2014 in the U.S.[88]:

  • 5% of adults are overweight or obese; 34.9% are obese.
  • 8% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese; 16.9% are obese.
  • 4% of low-income preschoolers are overweight or obese.

How’s that feedlot pyramid working out for you and your children?

As for “only ten” studies related to the benefits of a Paleolithic diet alleged by the author of the anti-Paleo article mentioned at the beginning of this[89], I’ve come across a few more (not counting the innumerable research papers available supporting a low carbohydrate, fat-based ketogenic approach to eating as related to longevity, cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity, cancer, diabetes and much, much more. See also previous citations in this article.):

  • Jönsson, Tommy ; Granfeldt, Yvonne; Ahrén, Bo, et al. “Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study.” Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009; 8: 35. Published online Jul 16, 2009. doi:  1186/1475-2840-8-35
  • S. Lindeberg, T. Jönsson, Y. Granfeldt, et. al. “A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease.” Diabetologia September 2007, Volume 50, Issue 9, pp 1795-1807
  • Eaton SB, Eaton SB 3rd, Konner MJ. “Paleolithic nutrition revisited: a twelve-year retrospective on its nature and implications.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 1997 Apr;51(4):207-16.
  • Levine I., “Cancer among the American Indians and its bearing upon the ethnologicaI distribution of the disease.” J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 1910, 9:422-435
  • Brown GM, Cronk LB, Boag TJ. “The occurrence of cancer in an Eskimo. 1952, 5:142-143.
  • Eaton SB, Konner M, Shostak M., “Stone agers in the fast lane: chronic degenerative diseases in evolutionary perspective.” Am J Med. 1988, 84:739-749.
  • Carrera-Bastos P, Fontes-Villalba M, O’Keefe JH, Lindeberg S, Cordain L. “The western diet and lifestyle and diseases of civilization.” Research Reports in Clinical Cardiology 2011, 2:15-35
  • Eaton SB, Eaton SB III. The evolutionary context of chronic degenerative diseases. In: Stearns SC, editor. Evolution in health and disease. Oxford: Oxford Univ Press, 1999:251–9.
  • Hu Y, Shang H, Tong H, Nehlich O, Liu W, Zhao C, Yu J, Wang C, Trinkaus E, Richards MP. “Stable isotope dietary analysis of the Tianyuan 1 early modern human.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2009,106:10971-10974
  • Richards MP. “A brief review of the archaeological evidence for Palaeolithic and Neolithic subsistence.” Eur J Clin Nutr 2002, 56:16, p following 1262
  • Eaton, S. Boyd, Cordain, L., Sparling, Phillip B. “Evolution, body composition, insulin receptor competition, and insulin resistance.” Preventive Medicine 49 (2009) 283-285.
  • O’Dea, K., 1984. “Marked improvement in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic Australian Aborigines after temporary reversion to traditional lifestyle.” Diabetes 33, 596–603.
  • O’Keefe, J.H., and Cordain, L., 2004. “Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genome: How to become a 21st-century hunter-gatherer.” Mayo Clin. Proc. 79, 101–108.
  • Cordain, L., Eaton, S.B., Brand-Miller, J., Mann, N., and Hill, K., 2002b. “The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets: Meat based, yet non-atherogenic. J. Clin. Nutr. Suppl. no. 1, 56, S42–S52.
  • Cordain, L., Watkins, B.A., Florant, G.L., Kelher, M., Rogers, L., and Li, Y., 2002a. “Fatty acid analysis of wild ruminant tissues: Evolutionary implications for reducing diet-related chronic disease.” J. Clin. Nutr. 56, 181–191.
  • Cordain, L., Watkins, B.A., and Mann, N.J., 2001. “Fatty acid composition and energy density of foods available to African hominids. Evolutionary implications for human brain development.” World Rev. Nutr. Diet 90:144–161.
  • Eaton, S.B., 1992. “Humans, lipids and evolution.” Lipids 27, 814–820.
  • Eaton, S.B., and Konner, M., 1985. “Paleolithic nutrition: A consideration of its nature and current implications.” New Engl. J. Med. 312, 283–289.
  • Eaton, S.B., Nelson, D.A., 1991. “Calcium in evolutionary perspective.” J. Clin. Nutr. Suppl. 54(1), 281S–287S.
  • Krogh, A., and Krogh, M., 1913. “A study of the diet and metabolism of Eskimos undertaken in 1908 on an expedition to Greenland.”Gronl. 51, 1–52.
  • Reaven, G.M., 1995. “Pathophysiology of insulin resistance in human disease.” Rev. 75, 473–86 (having clear implications for low-carb Paleolithic eating)
  • Richards, M.P., Hedges, R.E.M., Jacobi, R., Current, A., and Stringer, C., 2000. “Focus: Gough’s Cave and Sun Hole Cave human stable isotope values indicate a high animal protein diet in the British Upper Palaeolithic.” Archaeol. Sci. 27, 1–3.
  • Sebastian, A., Frassetto, L.A., Sellmeyer, D.E., Merriam, R.L., and Morris, R.C., 2002. “Estimation of the net acid load of the diet of ancestral preagricultural Homo sapiens and their hominid ancestors.” J. Clin. Nutr. 76, 1308–1316.
  • Sinclair, H.M., 1953. “The diet of Canadian Indians and Eskimos.“ Nutr. Soc. 12, 69–82
  • Cordain, L., Eades, M.R., and Eades, M.D., 2003. “Hyperinsulinemic diseases of civilization: more than just syndrome X.” Biochem. Physiol. A 136, 95–112.
  • Cordain, L., Eaton, S Boyd , Sebastian, A., et. al., “Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century.” Am J Clin Nutr February 2005 vol. 81 no. 2 341-354
  • Abuissa, Hassam, O’Keefe Jr., James H., and Cordain, L. “Realigning our 21st century diet and lifestyle our hunter-gather genetic identity.” Directions in Psychiatry, 2005. Volume 10
  • Lindeberg, S., Cordain, L., Eaton, S. Boyd. “Biological and Clinical Potential of a Palaeolithic Diet.” Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine (September 2003) 13(3), 149–160
  • Boyd Eaton, MD, Stanley B. Eaton III and Loren Cordain “Evolution, Diet and Health” (Chapter 2) In: Ungar PS, Teaford MF (Eds.), Human Diet: Its Origins and Evolution. Mawah, New Jersey, Greenwood Publishers, 2002 , pp. 7 – 17 .
  • Eaton, SB, Konner, MJ, Shostaak, M. “An evolutionary perspective enhances understanding of human nutritional requirements.” J Nutr 1996; 126: 1732-1740.
  • Eaton, S. Boyd, Cordain, L., Lindeberg, S. “Evolutionary Health Promotion: A Consideration of Common Counterarguments.” Preventive Medicine 34, 119–123 (2002)
  • Abrams, H. Leon Jr. 1979 ‘The relevance of Paleolithic diet in determining contemporary nutritional needs.’ Journal of Applied Nutrition, vol. 31, nos. 1 & 2: pages 43-59.
  • Bocherens, H., Fizet, H., Mariotti, A., Lange-Badré, B., Vandermeersch, B., Borel, J.P. and Bellon, G. 1991 ‘Isotopic biogeochemistry (13C, 15N) of fossil vertebrate collagen: Application to the study of a past food web including Neandertal man.’ Journal of Human Evolution, 20 (6). pages 481 – 92.
  • Bunn, H. and Ezzo, J. 1993 ‘Hunting and scavenging by Plio-Pleistocene hominids: Nutritional constraints, archaeological patterns, and behavioural implications.’ Journal of Archaeological Science 20: pages 365-398
  • Ho, Kang-Jey et al 1972. ‘Alaskan Arctic Eskimo: responses to a customary high-fat diet.’ American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 25, no. 8 (August 1972): page 737
  • Speth, J.; Spielman, K. ‘Energy source, protein metabolism, and huntergatherer subsistence strategies’. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 2:1-31.
  • Aiello, Leslie C.; Wheeler, Peter ‘The expensive-tissue hypothesis: the brain and the digestive system in human and primate evolution.’ Current Anthropology, vol. 36, no.2 (April 1995): pages 199-221.
  • Crawford, Michael A. 1992. ‘The role of dietary fatty acids in biology: their place in the evolution of the human brain.’
    Nutrition Reviews, vol. 50, no. 4 (April 1992, part 2): pages 3-11.
  • Davis, Devra Lee ‘Paleolithic Diet, Evolution, and Carcinogens.’ Science, vol. 238: pages 1633-1634
  • Hunt, J.R.; Gallagher, S.K.; Johnson, L.K.; Lykken, G.I. ‘High- vs. low meat diets: effects on zinc absorption, iron
    status, and calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, nitrogen, phosphorus, and zinc balance in postmenopausal women.’ American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 62: pages 621-632.
  • Milton, K. ‘A hypothesis to explain the role of meat-eating in human evolution.’ Evolutionary Anthropology 8(1): 11-21.
  • Speth, J.D. 1989. ‘Early hominid hunting and scavenging: The role of meat as an energy source.’ Journal of Human Evolution. 18. 329 – 43.
  • Teaford, M.F. & Ungar, P.S. 2000 Diet and the evolution of the earliest human ancestors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 97 (25). 13506 – 11.
  • Blumenschine, R.J.; Cavallo, J.A.  ‘Scavenging and human evolution.’ Scientific American 267 (4) :90-96.
  • Bunn, H.; Ezzo, J. ‘Hunting and scavenging by Plio-Pleistocene hominids: nutritional constraints, archaeological patterns, and behavioral implications.’ Joumal of Archaeological Science 20: 365-398.
  • Stahl, Ann Brower ‘Hominid dietary selection before fire.’
    Current Anthropology, April 1984, vol. 25, no. 2: pages 151-168.
  • P. Simopoulos, “Evolutionary aspects of diet, essential fatty acids and cardiovascular disease” Eur Heart J Suppl (2001) 3 (suppl D): D8-D21. doi: 10.1016/S1520-765X(01)90113-0
  • Angel JL. Health as a factor in the changes from hunting to developed farming in the eastern Mediterranean. In: Cohen MN, Armelagos GJ, editors. Paleopathology at the origins of agriculture. New York: Academic Press, 1984:51–73.
  • Trowell HC, Burkett DP, editors.
  • Western diseases: their emergence and prevention. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press,1981:xiii–xvi.
  • Shephard RJ, Rode A. The health consequences of modernization: evidence from circumpolar peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996:101–8

Of course, then again, maybe it’s all just a fad after all (i.e., the oldest “fad diet” known to human history, that is).



This huge article in Time Magazine said that the 40-year demonization of saturated fat as the cause of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease was based on flawed data, citing this March 2014 Cambridge University study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

It’s not saturated fat we should worry about,” said Rajiv Chowdhury, lead author of the study. “It’s the high-carb or sugary diet that should be the focus of dietary guidelines.”


An article in online news web site, The Examiner headline read:

“War on Saturated Fat is Over: Ketogenic, Atkins and Paleo Diets are Vindicated.”

It was only a matter of Time (pun intended).


[2] Carrera-Bastos, Pedro; Maelan Fontes-villalba, Maelan, O’Keefe, James H., et. al., “The western diet and lifestyle and diseases of civilization.” Research Reports in Clinical Cardiology, 8 March 2011

[3] Michael Richards’ publications and other isotopic studies:

Katzenburg MA (2008) Stable isotope analysis: a tool for studying past diet, demography, and life history. In Katzenburg MA, Saunders SR (eds) Biological Anthropology of the Human Skeleton. (Hoboken, Wiley-Liss) 2nd Edition pp 413-441

Schoeninger MJ, DeNiro M (1984) Nitrogen and carbon isotopic composition of bone collagen from marine and terrestrial animals.  Geochim Cosmochim Acta 48:635-639.

Schoeninger MJ (1995) Stable isotope studies in human evolution. Evolutionary Anthropology 4(3): 83-98.

van der Merwe, NJ (1982) Carbon isotopes, photosynthesis, and archeology. American Scientist 70: 596-606.

The Evolution of Hominin Diets: Integrating Approaches to the Study of Palaeolithic Subsistence. Hublin, Jean Jacques and Richards, Michael P., Editors. Springer Science and Business Media, B.V. 2009 (a book, I might add, that contains literally hundreds of peer-reviewed citations).

[4] Greg Wadley & Angus Martin, “ The Origins of Agriculture: A Biological Perspective and a New Hypothesis.” Australian Biologist 6:96- 105, June 1993.

[5] Rubio-Tapia, Alberto; Kyle, Robert A. Kaplan, Edward L., et. al. “Increased Prevalence and Mortality in Undiagnosed Celiac Disease.”   Gastroenterology (July;137(1):88-93)

[6] Catassi C, Kryszak D, Bhatti B, et. al. “Natural history of celiac disease autoimmunity in a USA cohort followed since 1974.” Ann Med. 2010 Oct;42(7):530-8


[8] Marios Hadjivassiliou MD, Pascale Aeschlimann BSc, Alexander Strigun MSc, et. al. “Autoantibodies in gluten ataxia recognize a novel neuronal transglutaminase.” Annals of Neurology 2008; 64: 332-343

[9] Hadjivassiliou M, Sanders DS, Grünewald RA, Woodroofe N, Boscolo S, Aeschlimann D. “Gluten sensitivity: from gut to brain.” Lancet Neurology in 2010; 9; 318-30

[10] From a transcript of a talk given by Kenneth Fine, M.D. (Medical Director and Director of Operations EnteroLab Reference Laboratory) to the Greater Louisville Celiac Sprue Support Group, June 2003. (

[11] M Hadjivassilioua, A K Chattopadhyayb, G A B Davies-Jonesa, A Gibsona, R A Grünewalda A J Loboc. “Neuromuscular disorder as a presenting feature of coeliac disease.” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 1997; 63; 770-775.

[12] Karen M. Spach and Colleen E. Hayes. “Vitamin D3 Confers Protection from Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Only in Female Mice” The Journal of Immunology September 15, 2005 vol. 175 no. 6 4119-4126

[13] Peter H.R. Green, MD. “Mortality in Celiac Disease, Intestinal

Inflammation, and Gluten Sensitivity.” JAMA, Sept 16, 2008, Vol 302, No. 11.

[14] Neurology (Vol 56/No.3 Feb 13, 2005

[15] Ludvigsson JF, Montgomery SM, Ekbom A, Brandt L, Granath F. “Small-intestinal histopathology and mortality risk in celiac disease.” JAMA Sept 16; 302(11):1171-8.

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