US News Ranks the Paleo Diet: 2014. Deja Vu All over again!
Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been consumed with getting the cert done and working at the Specialty Health clinic. Things are motoring along but this stuff just takes time. Add in a few brazilian jiu-jitsu classes and being a dad and I’ve not had much time for writing of late. I have a HUGE list a blog topics I want to hit once I get this stuff put to bed…I honestly detest large projects like a book or this cert as it just takes me out of pocket for everything else…but what’s a cave man to do?
New News Same Old Shit
So, my twitter and FB feeds have been more backed up than an Elvis impersonator on a two week heroin binge. The topic? US News and World Reports 2014 “Best Diets” ranking, which places the crusty old Paleo Diet a dead, fossilized…corpralite-esque…LAST. Now, the PD was not just last, it was behind such hard scientific contenders as the Slim Fast and Medifast diets! (Those are diets built around shakes folks…)
If I can make an MMA analogy here, the Paleo Diet is Anderson Silva…seemingly unstoppable until we not only shattered our tibia on the bony protuberances of shake based “nutritional” approaches, but the resulting shockwave of dismay caused a collective implosion of scrota and ovaries in the Ancestral Health scene! Will we ever recover? Can we get another title shot?!
If you are trying to figure out what is going on, this is the yearly nob-polishing USNWR provides to things like the aforementioned shake plans and as well as high profile contenders like the Biggest Loser Diet. To take a line from BattleStar Galactica: This has all happened before, it will all happen again. That link is to the last go around on this topic in which USNWR claimed a panel of experts ranked the PD last, but then when the colleagues of these experts quizzed them on their actual ranking of the PD it appeared USNWR might have applied some “artistic license” to the rankings. It’s been a long time since journalism was about accuracy vs hyperbole, so I guess we need to give the good folks at USNWR a pass (standards are “hard”). If that curb-stomping is not enough for you, please see my mentor, Prof. Loren Cordain’s most recent thoughts on the 2014 rankings. Every news outlet from CNN to the Chernobyl Half Life Observer has picked up this story and proclaimed “Der Paleo Diet ist TOT!”
Well, we are not dead yet. And at least USNWR manages to spell “Paleo Diet” correctly, which helps with the google trends volume which I’ll get to in a bit.
Where Do We Go Now?
The aforementioned rebuttals are quite technical and detailed, I’m not going to rehash that material, but I do want to look at a few of the claims kicked around in the USNWR ranking:
1-The paleo Diet provides inadequate nutrition.
This is not petite-mal wrong, but gran-mal. Please see Prof. Cordain’s early paper and Dr. Mat Lalonde’s nutrient density work. I’m not sure what to say about this other than the folks holding this opinion do not keep up with the literature Or are terrible with math.
2-The Paleo Diet is hard.
Some people make diet and lifestyle changes easily, others prefer to smoke through a trach-tube and scare little kids with their electronically synthesized voice vs changing behavior. To me (opinion piece to follow) what is hard is feeling consistently like shit and living a sub-optimal life. I was pretty sick once and did not really enjoy the experience, perhaps others are different. All that aside, if someone like USNWR is going to make a claim that the PD is “too hard” it might be nice to have something, anything to justify this position. I’d make an argument that if a program were actually hard or non-effective for a variety of goals (weight loss, health issues) then we might see initial interest and a subsequent decline in interest. You know, like happened with The Zone.
Maybe The Russel’s can hound Google Trends to change this clearly inaccurate information?
3-There is no science supporting the Paleo Diet.
This one absolutely crushes me…is it too much to ask that folks go to PubMed and search for Paleo Diet? I guess I should look at this not as annoying, but as job security. Well, the rebuttals are a good resource for peer reviewed literature around this topic but here is a snippet from an email I received from Prof. Cordain:
A healthy diet with and without cereal grains and dairy products in patients with type 2 diabetes: study protocol for a random-order cross-over pilot study – Alimentation and Diabetes in Lanzarote -ADILAN
Maelán Fontes-Villalba16*, Tommy Jönsson1, Yvonne Granfeldt2, Lynda A Frassetto3, Jan Sundquist1, Kristina Sundquist1, Pedro Carrera-Bastos1, María Fika-Hernándo4, Óscar Picazo5 and Staffan Lindeberg1
This study will plug some of the holes in Prof. Lindeberg’s original Paleo Diet in humans study. Prof. Cordain has a comprehensive study looking at the efficacy of the PD for various autoimmune conditions for which the preliminary data is very exciting.
But, it’s a retrospective survey! Bad Scientists! No RCT!!
Well, for the nut-swingers who want data, this is the process to get it. Observationally we SEEM to see some remarkable benefits for folks with autoimmunity (and a host of other issues). Given that our current success with conventional therapies for autoimmunity range between “suck” and “worse than the disease” it seems compelling to investigate this stuff further, yes? Perhaps the PD works for autoimmunity and other conditions better than a conventional diet, perhaps not, but again, this is the process that will help answer that question. I think much of the growth that we see with paleo is born of the results folks get…or maybe we just have an amazing TV show that I have not heard of yet.
Many ironies exist in the story between the emerging mainstream presence of Ancestral Health and the slap-dick accounting typical of the media. Most of this I can chalk up to ignorance, inertia and, well, more ignorance, but one wee irony that certainly tickles my ossified funny bone is that many folks from the Paleo Diet scene recently participated in a tweet chat sponsored by…Us News and World Reports Health. The chat ended up trending on twitter.
So, is this stuff annoying? Yea, kinda. Will it affect the growth and success of the Ancestral Health model? Nope, not one bit. We can share information too quickly, folks can experiment and share experiences and in a very market based way, the stuff that works best WILL become the dominant paradigm.