One thing I've learned in the course of my anthropology studies is that humans are very adaptable, and often in human history, trade-offs have been made and new diets have been adopted. There is no such thing as one perfect, ideal "paleo" diet. Pre-agricultural peoples ate lots and lots of things that weren't neccesarily easy to digest and required considerable processing in order to eat. And it's not true that they didn't eat legumes and grains. How do you think these things were domesticated in the first place?
Eating a diet that is almost entirely made up of one or a few foods is not going to make for good health and balanced nutrition. That's true if that one food is maize or wild yam or wheat flour. Anyone in the world who lived in a time and place where a wide variety of wild foods were not available year round, had to either store food--and there are relatively fewer foods suitable for storage--or eat what was available, which in winter or dry season, depending on the climate, might have meant eating the same thing day in and day out, and not much of it, at that time of year.
Domesticating food was a trade-off: it often resulted in reduced diversity of diet, especially in hard times, and resulted in having to work harder for every calorie, but let you feed more mouths.
What a Paleo diet would look like, for a given population in a given location, time of year, climate, etc. is highly diverse, so anyone saying that X,Y, and Z was a paleo diet and they didn't eat A, B, and C is oversimplifying and generalizing a great deal.
Part of our adaptations to different diets was cultural (things like making yogurt to eat milk, or soaking things to take out toxins, or cooking foods), and part of it was biological. There is variation in the human population in how well people digest different foods. On average people of Inuit ancestry, for example, are more efficient at absorbing certain trace vitamins (like calcium) that were hard to come by in their traditional diet, to the point that some Inuit children become hypercalcemic (overdose on calcium) when given the "recommended daily dose" set by standards in people who had historically very different diets. On the other hand, the lactase persistence mutation which is nearly ubiquitous in certain populations allows them to drink whole milk and digest it with little problem.
In our modern world where few or none of us live in any way even remotely resembling how our ancestors did for thousands of years, let alone relying on the same mix of foods in the same environment they did, and in fact probably have ancestors from diverse places and mixed-up genes not necessarily suited best to one particular diet, what's going to be a healthy, ideal diet will vary greatly from individual to individual. What may have been adaptive for one of your ancestors at some time in the past in the different environment you live in today may well be maladaptive instead.
It depends on your individual genetics and body chemistry, epigenetic effects passed on by your mother, developmental happenstance, and your interactions with the environment, including diet and activity levels, from conception on. If particular foods make you unwell, it is common sense to avoid them. But what is best won't be the same for everyone. About the only sure bet nutritionally for humans is breastmilk. Once you outgrow that, all bets are off, and anything that can be rendered non-poisonous and provide calories and nutrients has probably been eaten by someone, somewhere.
Originally Posted by Metasequoia
I've just finished reading this
thread about the Paleo Diet & NT diet, I still go back & forth between which is right for my family.
Both diets recognize that grains & legumes are hard to digest, in the Paleolithic Era, they didn't eat them, so by following that diet, you'd forgo them altogether. NT also recognizes the grain/legume problem & recommends soaking them to lessen the phytic acid. Personally, for my family, I think I'll avoid grains & legumes as much as possible.
The one difference between the two diets that I'm having trouble with is dairy. We drink raw milk & love it, it would be SO hard to give up, but I also have a hard time accepting that man is meant to drink milk from a cow/goat. It just doesn't seem natural to me. According to the Paleo diet, when man began raising cattle for dairy & growing grains, diseases like cancer, heart disease & diabetes came about. Anyone have any links to debunk those studies?
Nuts too, I suppose the phytic acid would have leached out while laying on the ground & being soaked with rain & drying in the sun - do you think that's how they were safely consumed back in the Paleo Era? That's what I come up with when I think of what the NT diet is mimicking by soaking.
We are omnivores here, I firmly believe in eating grass-fed, organic meat & eggs, but the dairy thing, I'm just not sold on.
Does anyone else have these little battles going on in their mind?