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Why Does the Paleo Diet Continue to Receive Low Points from “Established Authorities”?

thumbsdownYou may have heard the big news: the paleo diet ranked dead last in the US News and World Report diet rankings. When my inbox floods with links to the latest paleo bashing in the media, I don’t even get surprised or annoyed anymore. It amuses me. The one downside of this stuff is that work grinds to a halt for a few hours because a popular pastime around the Primal headquarters whenever one of these reports comes out is to see who can pick the ripest, most ridiculous misconceptions or blatant falsehoods. The big upside is even more publicity, more notoriety, and more laughter. Laughter is always a good thing.

 

Initially, you may weep at the ignorance on display. That’s how I was when I first started out, along with a bit of teeth gnashing. But it gives way to deep belly laughter that resonates through every bone in your body and plucks at the ligaments holding them together to create a sweet sonorous melody filling the room and reaching up to the skies above. At least it did for me.

So let’s laugh together. I’ll draw on three of the best statements and quotes we’ve been passing around and provide a bit of translation and/or commentary. Bonus: you can use these as quick replies whenever someone smugly thrusts the US News diet ranking in your face.

Does it have cardiovascular benefits?

While some studies have linked Paleo diets with reducing blood pressure, bad “LDL” cholesterol, and triglycerides (a fatty substance that can raise heart disease risk), they have been few, small, and short. And all that fat would worry most experts.

Translation: Although actual studies on the Paleo diet in live human subjects result in improved risk factors for heart disease, including lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, “all that fat” worries our expert panel. We’ve got a hunch that those results are invalid and do not reflect reality. Because reasons. Just trust us. Hey, who’s up for a SlimFast shake whose third ingredient is heart-healthy sugar?

In reality: They say it right there, don’t they, and somehow choose to ignore it? And “some studies” haven’t just “linked” Paleo diets to lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Randomized controlled trials have legitimately shown that Paleo diets can directly cause the improvements in traditional cardiovascular disease markers. You can argue that they were too small to draw overarching conclusions about the population at large, and that would be fair, absolutely, but the studies show causation, not just association.

Will you lose weight?

No way to tell.

Translation: There’s absolutely no way to tell if you’ll lose weight on this diet. None. We’ve racked our considerable brains, combed through the scientific literature, and consulted with several dozen different experts on human metabolism and nutrition. We’re all absolutely stumped. There is literally nothing present in the extant body of human knowledge that would indicate the Paleo diet can help you lose weight. The likely, if unfortunate, answer is that we will never – absent divine intervention – truly know if this diet can work for weight loss. We strongly suggest that you abandon your futile pursuit of weight loss on the Paleo diet and turn to one of the weight loss diets with extensive support in the scientific literature, like the Cookie Diet. Oh, and if you think “trying it out for yourself” can help you learn whether or not you’ll lose weight on Paleo, think again! Your inherent bias toward wanting to lose weight on the Paleo diet may induce hallucinatory delusions whenever you step on a scale to track your progress. Your weight will only appear to be lowering, and you’ve always worn that same size pant. What, you had to buy a new belt because the old one wouldn’t fit? How do you know you didn’t just imagine buying a new belt – ever think of that? Exactly. Don’t be fooled by the placebo effect, people.

In reality: Randomized controlled trials of the Paleo diet have shown it works for weight loss. And when compared to the Mediterranean diet, the Paleo diet has been shown to be more satiating per calorie. More recently, the same thing happened when they compared a Paleo diet to a standard diabetes diet in type 2 diabetics. Being able to eat fewer calories – spontaneously – without getting any hungrier is pretty much the defining characteristic of a successful weight loss diet. Paleo is also pretty good at helping you lose fat where it matters most. A recent study showed that postmenopausal women eating Paleo lost liver and waist fat, improving their waist-to-hip ratio and lowering their ApoB (a good approximation for LDL particle number) among other improvements.

Even if those studies didn’t exist, you always have the ability to determine if a diet works by trying it out yourself.

Are there health risks?

Possibly. By shunning dairy and grains, you’re at risk of missing out on a lot of nutrients. Also, if you’re not careful about making lean meat choices, you’ll quickly ratchet up your risk for heart problems.

Translation: By embracing eggs, beef, wild salmon, chicken, lamb, pork, kale, chard, romaine lettuce, spinach, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, broccoli, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, oranges, sardines, organ meatsshellfish, fennel, onions, garlic, asparagus, seaweed, butternut squash, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, strawberries, cantaloupe, almonds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, walnuts, and tuna, you’re at risk of missing out on a lot of nutrients. All those foods might taste nice and look pretty on a plate, but they are incredibly nutrient-sparse.

You won’t just increase your risk of heart disease. You will “quickly ratchet up” your risk. Let’s take this apart, because it’s a sneaky choice of words. “To ratchet” is “to cause something to rise (or fall) as a step in what is perceived to be an irreversible progress.” So not only are you increasing your risk of heart disease, you are setting out on an irreversible path toward heart problems. Each bite of 85/15 ground beef you take, each morsel of lamb chop you swallow, each time you fail to make a lean meat choice – these are death contracts upon which you can never renege.

In reality: I actually won’t quibble on the notion of dairy being a good, dependable source of nutrients like calcium, potassium, protein, and healthy fats. It is, which is why I support the consumption of dairy as long as you’re not intolerant of any of the components and suffer no ill symptoms. That said, you don’t need to eat dairy to get calcium, potassium, protein, or fat (besides, I highly doubt US News and World Reports count “dairy fat” as one of the benefits). In fact, leafy greens like kale, collards, mustard greens, and spinach and other vegetables like bok choy are excellent sources of calcium. Edible bony fish like canned sardines are also a great Paleo source of calcium, while protein and potassium are easy to come by on Paleo (in fact, the US News and World ranking committee admitted that Paleo provided nearly 10 grams of potassium, or double the recommended amount). As for general nutrient density, basic Paleo meets or (more commonly) exceeds the USDA recommendations for most nutrients (PDF).

Meat, whether lean or fatty, has never been consistently linked to heart disease. The most recent epidemiology actually vindicates fresh red meat, while condemning only processed meats like hot dogs and bologna. And even those associations are likely confounded by variables like the healthy user bias.

I was disappointed to see that they’d removed the reader response section, where readers could vote on whether a particular diet had worked for them or not. In 2011, when Paleo was similarly trashed by US News and World Report, the reader response overwhelmingly indicated that the diet worked for people (who were possibly experiencing a collective hallucination). This directly contradicts the opinion of the experts that Paleo is just too hard to follow (even if it were effective). Same goes for the way “paleo diet” is trending on Google. As Robb Wolf illustrates in his recent rebuttal to the diet rankings, if Paleo was “too hard,” we wouldn’t see the consistent upward trend of Google searches. We’d see a big drop off in interest – and we just aren’t seeing that.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. What about you? How many relatives and friends have you heard from regarding this? Does it change your mind at all?

Thanks for reading, all!

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-does-the-paleo-diet-continue-to-receive-low-points-from-established-authorities/#ixzz2qgKl3CSp

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Mark Sisson – The Stories

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

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Experts have understood for decades that the human brain is geared toward storytelling. As anyone who created bizarre scenarios to memorize random facts for high school tests knows, we recall information better if it’s organized within a story. In Grok’s day, this fact likely had clear benefits for passing on crucial information such as hunting and foraging strategies (and epic mistakes), medicinal remedies, migration routes, navigation principles, survival tactics, and familial bloodlines. From a less pragmatic sounding (but rather pivotal) angle, the human mind is also moved by narrative in a deeply emotional way. Sure, band life was organized around the daily company and collaboration of members, but Grok and his crew weren’t automatons. Stories of many kinds undoubtedly helped maintain or explain those bonds with tales of history and alliance (and, I imagine, humor). It’s kind of fun blow-ten-minutes thought: what would Grok have laughed at? But I digress…

While this “natural affinity for narrative construction” proved adaptive for the species, it worked because it operated in individuals of course. On that level, our forebears used story to lead, impress, teach, learn, remember, entertain, interpret and negotiate – generally, we assume – to their benefit. Each of us ever since was born with this affinity. For better and for worse, we experience our lives and our environments within this cognitive “narrative” framework every day. Indeed, we experience our own selves within this narrative context – for better and for worse….

Stories, of course, naturally highlight what we’ve done and been and what’s happened to us. Likewise, however, they suggest what we haven’t done or what we don’t consider ourselves to be. They reveal us but inevitably circumscribe us and define us to a point.

Think for a minute about the stories that you tell yourself – about you. Not necessarily the narrative you would like to tell about yourself (some meticulously crafted testimonial or eulogy). In fact, brush away all the public posturing and cocktail party introductions we all end up doing to some degree at least in certain situations. What is the real narrative you live each day when it’s just you and you. In other words, what inner tape ends up playing? What lens gets applied to the outer circumstances? What’s your role, and what characteristics describe this figure you walk around in each day?

Obviously, this concept has broad applicability in our lives. In terms of health, how does it play out? In terms of vitality, what reflection do you see? What does your script say about fitness, food, play, self-care? Does your script have you assigned the role of fat person? Does it tell you you’re a sugar-holic? Does it suggest you’re not an athlete? What does it tell you about your relationship to food, to fun, to overworking? This is the stuff that makes for people who lose 100 pounds but who sabotage themselves into regaining because they can’t recognize themselves in the mirror. There’s an emotional difficulty running underneath this that can’t integrate the new look (and attention) into the old psychological template. They have a new body that’s incompatible with the old mental operating system – a system that was likely founded in actual events but self-bolstered over time again and again.

Part of understanding why we get so hooked into these narratives and the assumptions about ourselves that they impose is understanding what incidents or outside messages created them in the first place. As they say, if you don’t process the past it will keep showing up in your present. The fact is, we can talk ourselves into (or out of) any myriad of opportunities or changes simply because we’re ruled by past scripts. We never really get off the ground for a fitness goal because middle school gym class taught us we didn’t belong or would never meet the standards. We battle food because it was our coping mechanism, and we were always praised for being the “good eater” in the family. We can’t learn to prioritize ourselves enough for some meaningful self-care because we were supposed to be the caretakers. Stress management seems like a nice but foreign concept because we grew up in emotional or logistical circumstances that always seemed to be foreboding another impending crisis.

Psychologists examine how the enormous collection of random incidents in our lives get sifted into actual memories and then further filtered by the power of repetition or magnitude (e.g. trauma or celebration) into “self-defining memories,” those experiences and messages that become a watershed for our self-perception. It’s the nature of human subjectivity (and a brain that can’t and didn’t evolve by storing every bit of input). Data isn’t created equal on a cognitive level. Our ancestors scanned but prioritized their attention. We do the same whether we’re surveying traffic or filing emotional feedback. What we end up with at the end of this cognitive filtration process is what becomes our personal scripts, the memories but also messages we use to define ourselves.

Once we recognize some of the original inputs, we can see how we ourselves have reinforced the stories over time by giving them – or their messages – too much of our faith and attention. Our stories, we find, need to be rewritten.

To dismantle such a foundation can feel unsettling, however necessary it is for our health and happiness. As fundamental as these narratives – these organizing principles of personal past and formulated identity – may seem, they aren’t real. They don’t exist in the same way the tangible present does. Things happened in the past, but they have no more significance than what is happening literally right this second. The past only has the power we give it each day. What could it mean to absorb this idea – to live the rest of your life in it?

Experts have examined our cognitive processing of memories and demonstrate that our self-stories clearly influence our behaviors. Yet, how we frame these memories also determines our relationship to them. Do we define ourselves by past disappointments, or do we see them as challenges overcome? Do we use failure to justify a negative self-concept, or do we weave it into a bigger story of redemption? How we make meaning from our negative experiences will significantly determine their impact on us. The more we can act in the spirit of the latter choices, experts suggest, the better we’ll weather life’s difficulties and encounters with our own human fallibility – and the more confident we’ll be that we can make effective change.

How Do You Change Your Story?

There’s the old adage, whatever we give our attention to grows. Changing our scripts means retraining our brains. Moving beyond old messages necessitates creating a new narrative. What are we dumping from the old scripts? What do you need to let go? And what needs to take its place? What do you want to be living? What are the messages you want to believe when it’s just you and you?

First, accept that new messages won’t ring true for a while. This doesn’t matter. Set your intention, and your mind will catch up eventually. Visualize what you want – on you, and continually take tangible steps toward making it happen in each mundane day. I caution putting up photographs of other thin, fit, happy, etc. people. Instead, put up a list of accomplishments or events you will do, and start scheduling them. Put a new piece of clothing you want to fit into in full view in your closet. Buy high quality exercise clothes and shoes for yourself to make you feel like you’re already an athlete – because you are. (You’re just honing your skill and strength or endurance.) Make a list of a hundred things you like to do instead of eat compulsively or overwork, and put it on your wall. Schedule some every week. Make sure you do at least something every day toward that intention. Afterward, acknowledge you made a choice to live from a different place than you used to – because you did.

On another note, affirmations or mantras might seem woo-woo to a lot of folks, but I’ve seen them work more times than I can count. It’s in part basic functioning of the brain. For something to get lodged in our brains, it’s got to either be the shock of major trauma or the consistency of daily input. An affirmation/mantra/personal saying/whatever you want to call it is totally meaningless said once or twice or ten times. Depending on many factors, you might begin to feel something after 30 days. Maybe it will take 100 days or 300 or 3 years, but every day you’ll be closer. The ultimate point is whether it’s worth it. Do you want to keep living with the same tape going in your head, or do you need a new script to live the life you want? If you do, it takes some persistence, which is pretty easy when you think about it. Just show up for the message each day, and eventually you’ll find it’s already there, inherent in you and how you approach your day. You’ll have 100 and then 300 and then 1000 stories that show you the life you’re living, the one you’ve chosen one thought and action at a time.

Let me turn it over to you now. What stories have fueled your Primal journey, and what have you had to let go of? What’s helped you in this process, and where are you looking for feedback or support. Share your thoughts, and thanks for reading.

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-stories-we-tell-ourselves/#ixzz2py1FDwCW

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