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Grecoair

Paleo two face?

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In my admittedly limited research, I'm seeing two sides to the world of Paleo. It seems like it is motivated by a primal idea of "let's get back to what our bodies have evolved to process" and also a lot of very recent scientific research into enzymes and cells and stuff that groc wouldn't have known.

I'm trying to figure out the deal with peanuts. Wait, don't go anywhere, keep reading. I've read that peanuts as we know them might be too recent in our history to be allowed by the primal motivation, and they also contain some malicious chemicals that we only have just now learned about (within the past century), also preventing them from being on the paleo menu. 

 

It would seem that the easy thing to do is just stop it with the peanuts. I will most likely do that, but there's a deeper understanding that I'm trying to grasp: is paleo strictly what our ancestors would have consumed or does it only exist nowadays because we can explain it with its scientific side?

 

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Legumes (and grains) have anti nutrients likely evolved as a defense against mammalian consumption which end the reproductive cycle of the plant.

Nuts also have these same anti nutrients, due to the same reasons, but is an acceptable food by paleo rules.

Paleo science is often legit, but definitely cherry-picked to support paleo's already defined very unscientific rules. Just because cavemen did it, doesn't mean it's the ideal biological behavior.

So, yeah, two faced. But you could do a lot worse than following a paleo diet.

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...you could do a lot worse than following a paleo diet.

 You're absolutely right, and right now I am doing worse, so I figure it's better to just try this out even at 80%. The worst case is I'm eating less junk food.

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Paleo is a template. It's a decent framework to make food decisions through. Anyone with a solid understanding of paleo will tell you that eating the same thing our ancestors did is impossible. The veggies we eat now are very different from what was available 50,000 years ago. And you'll go hungry looking for a mastadon for dinner. Paleo is mostly centered around eating unprocessed, naturally available nutrient dense foods as often as possible. It's a template to understand what our bodies are best prepared to use for fuel and nutrition. Not much more than that.

 

It's also an excellent framework to begin removing foods that you may have sensitivities to. Some sensitivities you may not even be aware of. The paleosphere is full of stories of people who underwent dramatic changes regarding all sorts of ailments because of eliminating processed crap and replacing it with more nutrient-dense alternatives. People see dramatic differences in arthritis, asthma, ADHD, depression, acne, sleep problems, myriad auto-immune issues, migraines; the list goes on and on. But just because something fits the paleo template doesn't mean it's automatically good for you.

 

Peppers are totally natural and nutrient dense. They're paleo all the way and healthy for most people. But they ruin my gut. They make me bleed in places you don't want to bleed - a state which wreaks havoc on one's body. Paleo limits the foods you're likely sensitive to, but doesn't necessarily remove them. There are few reasons why peanuts may not be the healthiest choice for a lot of people, but you might respond to them just fine. Whether or not they classify as paleo isn't all that important if they don't impede your health or ability to lose weight (if that's your goal). But since you might not be aware of damage they may be doing, it may be wise to avoid the them. It's up to you. It's a risk/reward calculation. There's a meme among some undereducated paleo people that just because something's bad for a few people, it's probably bad for everyone. That's a big stretch - but there's a little something to it. There are a lot of foods that many poeple are a bit sensitive to that don't create immediate issues. These little insults to the body aren't immediately noticeable and can add up over time to create pretty significant problems.

 

 

Paleo is also an excellent framework to follow to begin losing weight. But again, it's only a framework. You can gain weight and become diabetic on a paleo diet as well if you eat sweet potatoes and fruit like they're going out of style.

 

People make too much of paleo being "Only what our ancestors ate" - usually these people are new or under-informed paleo people, or critics setting up a weak straw-man argument.

 

 

So should you eat peanuts?

 

Are you sensitive to them? No/probably not: Don't sweat it

 

Are they a binge instigator? Do they seem to stall weight loss (if that's your goal)? Yes: probably avoid

 

Do they have lectins that bind to certain minerals and rob your body of some nutrition? Yes. But if you're eating a robust nutrient dense diet then a few peanuts probably aren't that big of a deal.

 

Are there a lot of other alternatives that are equally tasty and more nutritious? Yes. So eat those instead as often as possible, and when you have the occasional peanut your body will be better prepared to handle whatever minor insult peanuts might inflict on your body.

 

I like my peanuts surrounded by ice cream. Not paleo but tasty.

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Spend some time over at Mark's Daily Apple for a less cult-like version of paleo.  He does pretty good write-ups on stuff like peanuts, dairy, rice, and other stuff that isn't strictly paleo, examining the science both ways of why you might want to eat it and why some people might want to avoid it, all while telling people to experiment on themselves and figure out what works best for you.

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I agree with jfreaksho about Mark's Daily Apple. I think there is a tendency in the paleo community to freak out over some relatively innocuous stuff (OMG I can't eat that charred steak because CANCER!!!1!). Mark does a good job focusing on the big picture, but still giving good, well-founded advice to support lifestyle changes.

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