When loading regular non paleo hot dogs, which besides meat were stuffed with nitrates, glucose, starches and all things horrible, I experienced a fleeting moment of guilt. I should be eating some real food. Like some grass fed beef and butter soaked veggies.
But then I started thinking about all the people in the world who continually eat corns, vegetable oils, legumes, sugars, toxic additives and so on who live long lives and who most of the time do not appear very sick.
Reading paleo health literature you might get the impression that everyone who bases their diet on the things we learn should be avoided would simply fall apart, rot from the inside out and become inflamed to the point of combustion.
But they don’t. There are people all around me living on what I would call a crappy diet, and they are fine. Sure some infections and pains could probably be avoided and perhaps they could feel just a little better, but that’s not the point. The point is that they’re fine. Most people around me are grain based. Athletes and sedentary alike on low fat, high fructose, high corn diets, and their doing fine most of the time.
I know we are sick animals, us industrialized humans. Most of us probably do not know what it feels like to be in good health most of the time. But knowing what I do about nutrition and the effects of food on the body I am surprised at how little I or any other paleo(ish) stand out. Where are the superpowers? Why aren’t we more different?
Even considering that most people are sick most of the time or that we are only beginning to see the ill effects of the way we live, I have to admit to myself, that the difference between those living on healthy diets and people living on diets composed of the thing I shun, are not as big as I might be inclined to think.
I am not trying to, nor do I want to downplay the effects of healthy diets. Diet matters and it matters more to those dealt the worst genetic cards.
I just realized that this perspective was missing in my mind and that it should be there to keep me from getting airborne. To keep my feet on the ground, as I am constantly fighting an urge to be carried away and at the same time I’m truly baffled by the results some achieve by lifestyle changes.
Just a thought…
Excellent post. I think about these issues all the time as well and often ask myself why I search for healthier foods and restrict myself from eating crap. Is it really worth it or am I just getting caught up in this whole LCHF way of life to the point of being a fanatic. I was more or less a hermit prior to eating LCHF, and now I am even more so. After all, there are so few family or community social type get-togethers that have food that I want to eat, so, I don't go. Is this bad? Possibly. But, I guess I see no point in attending an event and then spending 90% of the time in a corner, drinking water!
The difference is more apparent into the middle of one's life. I agree it's perfectly possible to eat junk and not be sickly in one's 20s and perhaps 30s, but the health issues and physical degeneration will take its toll as a person ages.
However an extreme approach to nutrition isn't needed for most people, it is really about getting into a more or less ideal state and then staying there, and a little bit of junk here and there isn't going to take one out of that.
The reason you see no difference is that you hang out with people who are younger than 50. You kids can eat anything but you will pay later.
My wife and I are in our late sixties and eat and exercise strict paleo. We see dramatic difference between us and our peers. Heart disease, diabetes, frailty and obesity are rampant.
Everybody thinks we are 15 years younger than we are. Health and fitness wise, we feel the same as we did when we were in our 40's.
Thanks for your post. A couple observations:
It's a tricky thing to look at someone and say «they're fine.» There are lots of folks who are metabolicly obese weight normal.
As mentioned in previous comments, much of the damage takes a while to manifest itself visibly.
It isn't about comparing me to you or someone else. It's about what *my* health would be if *I* didn't eat the way I do. In part, of course, this isn't something that one can know with complete assurance. But we can combine personal history with observations and research to obtain a pretty good estimate.
We can, however, free ourselves and others from some of the myths we believe about the animal products we should be eating:
What’s the Limiting Factor?http://grassbasedhealth.blogspot.com/2010/12/whats-limiting-factor.html
The New Conventional Wisdom
Hormones and Nitrites and Antibiotics, Oh My!!
Wow- the bar is lowered here!! Whoever wrote this is obviously not someone who is in active clinical practice with clients. I am not advocating any «particular» diet, but in 20 years of traditional naturopathic private practice- NOBODY is «fine». The people I see – who eat the «crappy» diets, or even namely SAD (standard american diet) have many ills, from depression, fatigue, insulin resistance, skin problems, recurrent infections, reproductive cycle pains and problems, etc. You do 1,000 or more case histories and work with 10,000 + people in a DIRECT (not allopathic HMO approach)
conscious manner, and you will find MANY red flags and ills, which lead to much worse problems down the road. And that is across the board in ages- I see young people as sicker than ever.
I know many, perhaps most, are not in good health. My surprise is those who are in a too good health compared to what they do. Just as I am surprised at some smokers, drug addicts and alcoholics who despite constant abuse to their body just keep going. My surprise is in the body´s. resilience. Also, although the standard norwegian diet is bad, it is no way near as bad as the SAD (yet). Oh, and don´t get carried away. Life´s too short (even a paleo one).
Thanks for the links Pete. Will read.
Excellent post. A little epistemic humility is important. And, genetics is very important here. OTOH, the phenomena you describe, lots of people «most of the time do not appear very sick» may be age-related. I started eating paleo-ish at 60 and looking at my age cohort – I do see big differences. Looking at my daughter's friends in the early 30s, not so much observable.