My health coaching certification is through Mark Sisson’s Primal Health Coaching Institute. I chose it because I agree with just about every conclusion Mark has come to based on my own research that started about a decade before I found Mark. But even Mark has said, “Maybe the term ‘Primal’ doesn’t have to stick around.” Why? It’s just an ideal.
What is this “Paleo Diet” or “Paleo lifestyle”?
Agriculture was the “Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race”
Though any simpleton could characterize it as running around with a bone through your nose, killing animals with stones and eating their flesh raw. It is actually merely a quest to figure out just what this human animal’s diet really should be. It is fairly obvious that we have lost track of this as technology-starting with agriculture- has advanced. So when I see someone claiming to “debunk” the Paleo diet, I have to ask ‘WHAT Paleo diet”? The concept doesn’t really belong to anyone, though many claim it. Loren Cordain’s Paleo diet? Robb Wolf’s? Nora Gedgaudas’? There is no official ‘Paleo Diet’. Are they debunking the concept of the Paleo diet? As if humans ate incorrectly for millions of years and didn’t get it right until we had steel-cut oats?
And the quest for our true, healthiest diet isn’t even that. It’s actually a quest to ascertain which neolithic innovations and habits are the causes of unnecessary morbidity and early mortality, which is suddenly important to us now that life expectancy is decreasing for the first time, ever, in the richest countries in the world. No one in this Paleo “movement” is against technology per se. This brings us to Mark Sisson’s ‘Primal’ construct.
What is this “Primal Diet” or “Primal lifestyle”?
Mark Sisson is not a scientist like Loren Cordain or Chris Masterjohn. His not a Physician like Doug McGuff. He’s a guy with a good mind for science who takes the time to review the mountains of data produced by scientists and physicians and organize it into a cohesive lifestyle plan with the twin goals of not taking years from your life or life from your years with these so-called neolithic agents of disease. “The Primal Blueprint” is his branded version of the Paleo vision of optimal health. “Blueprint” refers to the influence of your DNA on your health and refers to your ability to “tune” your DNA expression through epigenetics.
But he recognizes that there are neolithic agents, discoveries and technologies that are truly beneficial, such as computers (when not abused), electronic heart monitors, Lactobacillic fermentation, dark chocolate, Dairy-if you tolerate it, or non-insulinogenic natural sweeteners that require modern processing or even distilled spirits! Mark calls this “Primal Living in the Modern World” and his critics like to point out these individual nuances as hypocritical or “not so primal” with snarky glee. But they are missing the point and really just show that they aren’t reading his work. This situation can be confusing for neophytes, too. “How am I ‘Primal’ and preparing food with airlocks and drinking Tequila, again?” Well…
Some of Mark’s inconsistencies are a little hard to carry water for, though. He has claimed to dislike “Primal Analogues of Neolithic agents of sickness” (i.e. primal chocolate muffins) but shares recipes for just such things all the time. I guess science must always be revised and his concept of “Primal Living in the Modern World” is getting looser. That does not, however, dismiss his basic concept that you can be in control of your body and play your metabolism like a fiddle once you know what’s going on. Once you accomplish this, you’ll know how to let these cheats in.
That’s why I say let’s skip the whole ‘vocabulary’ business and refer to this work when needed. Words are incredibly limiting ways to express abstract concepts, anyway. I happily draw from the experience of Vegans, Ayurvedics, Paleos and Primals, holding the feet of each to the fire of scientific scrutiny based on my own understanding of modern science.
I am not going to coerce anyone to “go Primal’, but if you want to, I’m the guy to tell you how and why. And of course I will advertise to draw those people, too.
You may see a pro-vegan/anti-paleo blog post that reads, “No, pasta is not killing you”. This is true. Chronic hyperinsulinemia is what’s killing you . Pasta is just one quick way to get to hyperinsulinemia. So are sugary beverages. So is coffee cake. You choose the form of The Destructor, Ray. I can show you how to navigate those waters with reason, logic and good, old-fashioned book science. And the paleo scientists are pretty sure there wasn’t tons of hyperinsulinemia around 15,000 years ago.
Lastly, thanks to hearsay, social media misguidance and irresponsible journalism, some may come to the Paleo/Primal philosophies with a jaundiced view (that’s a liver joke! Get it? Hepatocellular build up of excess bilirubin!). They may think it’s trendy or a fad and stop listening to good information based on that. Of course this kind of intellectual bigotry is not really my responsibility, but I circumnavigate it when I can. The Paleo guys claim quite the opposite; in the Geologic scale of things, even farming is new and trendy at 12-15,000 years young and processed foods are a lightening flash that hasn’t faded away from vision just yet. They want a new understanding of what “optimal” is that isn’t shaped by lobbyists, superstition or activism science.