Author Topic: Cordain, hero or heretic?  (Read 12907 times)

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Online TylerDurden

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Re: Cordain, hero or heretic?
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2010, 04:29:43 pm »
I'm afraid you are mistaken. Cordain recommends a palaeostyle diet based on 65% animal foods and 35% plant foods. I think like most palaeos he recommends that the animal foods are cooked and the plant foods eaten raw. He definitely is aware of the damage done by heat-created toxins such as Advanced Glycation End-Products, as he has previously recommended to use less harsher methods of cooking in order to produce less of those toxins.

I doubt he recommends cooked tubers as he doesn't seem to be a fan of Wrangham's notions.

As for the acid/alkali balance, that has been disproven re the Eskimoes(although I think Cordain explains it away by claiming that the Eskimoes ate extremely high amounts of omega-3s?).

My own view of Cordain is that he is a respected scientist who, unlike most other gurus, is unafraid to provide tons of studies to support his views. He is certainly not perfect, in that he is mainly trying to woo people from SAD diets so unfortunately recommends things like sodas as compromise foods etc. But he's better than most others.

« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 05:13:42 pm by TylerDurden »
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Offline Haai

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Re: Cordain, hero or heretic?
« Reply #26 on: September 10, 2010, 07:22:03 pm »
I read his book, the Paleo Diet, about a year and a half ago and sent the guy an email afterwards asking him for his opinion regarding raw meat. I was suffering from bad eczema at the time and I told him that I thought cooked meat could be making it worse, so i asked him what he thought about it.
I never got a reply.
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Offline Michael

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Re: Cordain, hero or heretic?
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2010, 03:05:00 am »
I'm skeptical of its importance and I suspect that it is overly simplified and doesn't take some factors into consideration, else how explain Lex's increased bone density on a largely-raw carnivorous diet and my partial firming, rather than loosening, of teeth and the resolution of my chronic kidney stones, instead of exacerbation?

This was my own thinking too PaleoPhil.  Lex's purely carnivorous diet and detailed bone testing must surely refute such claims as the acid/alkali issue.  It may be as simple as gs mentioned that it's purely the cooked/raw element that makes the difference or the entire theory could be baloney.  Thanks for the myriad of links.  I'll try to remember to look some of those up.

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What specifically are you referencing with regard to tubers?
Nothing specific I'm afraid.  As I said, I'd only had a very quick and brief scan over a few pages of his website and had seen mention of such foods.

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What I'm curious about is what food(s) did African yams replace in the diets of African hominids who adopted cooking?
Yes, I'm aware of your search for this following our previous discussions in other threads.  It's still a matter I'm very much interested in myself.

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I like and respect Dr. Cordain, but I don't revere anyone. I abhor and condemn guru worship and I try to be more a fan of ideas and facts than of gurus.
A very wise stance.  Cordain's seemingly extensive research and basis on scientific studies, as well as the other important points you mention as favouring, are certainly something to admire and respect which is why I've taken a sudden interest in his work and intend to look into it a little more.

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Some low carbers and zero carbers, such as William, still haven't forgiven him for these early mistakes. But who among us is perfect? If even someone who suffered from some of his advice, such as me, can recognize his contributions, then surely he can't be all bad.
Are most of his early mistakes in his early books and, if so, would you not recommend reading these?

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I view grudges as generally unproductive and irrational and I've noticed that the people most prone to them tend to be guided more by emotion and zealotry than reason and open-mindedness and I have found it pointless to argue with them
I generally agree with this and try to practice understanding towards others at all times.  Although I do understand the underlying psychology of it, I'm most aggrieved by the general derogatory manner in which some people feel compelled to argue their point.

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In my experience I have found that it pays to be "hearty in my approbation, and lavish in my praise" and stingy with criticism. Where I have ignored this advice from industrialist Charles M. Schwab and author Dale Carnegie, and Stephen Covey's advice to "seek first to understand," I have tended to regret it. As long as someone lives there is the chance they may change their mind. Even current enemies may be future allies.
Quite right!  It's unfortunate that more don't consider a similar approach.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Cordain guys.  I appreciate it as he's not someone I've ever looked into although, of course, I've been aware of him.  I didn't really have any opinion or basis of thought on his work besides my recent brief encounter at his website so I just wanted to gain knowledge of his standing among us before I bothered to read his work further.


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Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Cordain, hero or heretic?
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2010, 12:47:26 pm »
I'm afraid you are mistaken. Cordain recommends a palaeostyle diet based on 65% animal foods and 35% plant foods.
"It is much easier to be critical than to be correct." --Benjamin Disraeli

Dr. Cordain doesn't actually recommend exact ratios to people, he just reports what the analyses of hunter gatherer diets, such as those reported in Murdock's Ethnographic Atlas, have found. What I was referring to is that he wrote glowingly about fruits, winter squashes, certain nightshades like tomatoes and peppers, and flaxseed and Canola oils and I was influenced by this into eating too much of these foods. Both he and I have changed our diets since then and as I understand it he no longer strongly advocates nightshades, flaxseed or Canola and he has toned down his early negative stance on saturated fats. Have you read his latest writings about these foods? If you don't believe me about any of this you can post a question at his blog and one of his team will answer.

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He definitely is aware of the damage done by heat-created toxins such as Advanced Glycation End-Products, as he has previously recommended to use less harsher methods of cooking in order to produce less of those toxins.
Yes and I mentioned that here: "IIRC, he warns against certain forms of cooking that are widely regarded as unhealthy (such as deep frying)." Stephen Guyenet and Dr. William Davis have also been writing more on the subject of the downsides of high-heat cooking lately.

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I doubt he recommends cooked tubers as he doesn't seem to be a fan of Wrangham's notions.
He and Joe Friel do suggest cooked tubers like potatoes sweet potatoes and yams as compromise foods for the special needs of athletes in their book The Paleo Diet for Athletes (see http://www.amazon.com/Paleo-Diet-Athletes-Nutritional-Performance/dp/1594860890/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284178732&sr=8-1#reader_1594860890). It had always puzzled me that nearly every warm-climate hunter gatherer group eats cooked tubers yet Cordain and Audette had early on been so negative about them. Dr. Cordain has since softened his stance on cooked tubers (and saturated fats). On the other hand, it is true that humans and proto-humans got along fine without cooked tubers for millions of years before they started eating them. Once again this raises the important question of what humans ate before they started eating cooked tubers and why they started.

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My own view of Cordain is that he is a respected scientist who, unlike most other gurus, is unafraid to provide tons of studies to support his views. He is certainly not perfect, in that he is mainly trying to woo people from SAD diets so unfortunately recommends things like sodas as compromise foods etc. But he's better than most others.
I agree. You're one of the few other Paleos besides me who doesn't treat Dr. Cordain overly harshly and I commend you for that. I think people are finally starting to recognize that he's not a dogmatist and that he will adjust his views as the facts warrant it. Science is not about dogma or final answers, it's about endless questioning and learning.


Are most of his early mistakes in his early books
Yes
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and, if so, would you not recommend reading these?
No, I do recommend them anyway--particularly The Paleo Diet and all his research reports, articles and video lectures on autoimmune disorders and molecular mimicry. That seems to be his forte.

From the beginning there has been disagreement among Paleo diet advocates (the first I encountered were Boyd Eaton, Loren Cordain and Ray Audette who collaberated but also disagreed on some matters from the start and now there are numerous Paleos of many stripes) so my advice from the start has been to check out the various opinions and decide for yourself. That's what I did (for example, early on I read both Neanderthin and The Paleo Diet and contrasted where they disagreed and came up with my own approach that combined elements of both and some of my own ideas) and it has been a continual learning process for me. I think the key is to educate oneself and to listen to one's own body. After you read The Paleo Diet you can get more updated versions of Dr. Cordain's views at the sources I provided above and I also suggest further broadening your perspective by reading the PaleoNu blog.

To me the key is what Boyd Eaton calls our Paleolithic legacy (vs. biological discordance), what Loren Cordain calls the evolutionary template, what Mark Sisson calls the Primal blueprint and what Kurt Harris calls the evolutionary metabolic milieu. The details of which specific foods to eat is less important and people get too hung up on them. If you learn the basic principles then you can figure out for yourself the rest taking into account your individual needs.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 01:43:17 pm by PaleoPhil »
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Online TylerDurden

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Re: Cordain, hero or heretic?
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2010, 05:26:28 pm »
"It is much easier to be critical than to be correct." --Benjamin Disraeli

Dr. Cordain doesn't actually recommend exact ratios to people, he just reports what the analyses of hunter gatherer diets, such as those reported in Murdock's Ethnographic Atlas, have found. What I was referring to is that he wrote glowingly about fruits, winter squashes, certain nightshades like tomatoes and peppers, and flaxseed and Canola oils and I was influenced by this into eating too much of these foods. Both he and I have changed our diets since then and as I understand it he no longer strongly advocates nightshades, flaxseed or Canola and he has toned down his early negative stance on saturated fats. Have you read his latest writings about these foods? If you don't believe me about any of this you can post a question at his blog and one of his team will answer.

Cordain has mentioned the 65%/35% paleodiet  ratio re animal foods versus plant fooods in the past. Perhaps it was on beyondveg.com or his palaeodiet books. Will take time to check. Ah, here is a reference:-

http://forum.lowcarber.org/showthread.php?t=52311

« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 05:52:17 pm by TylerDurden »
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Re: Cordain, hero or heretic?
« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2010, 08:42:20 pm »
Cordain gets credit for popularizing the phrase paleo diet.
His website comes up on the first page of google on paleo diet.
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Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Cordain, hero or heretic?
« Reply #31 on: September 12, 2010, 01:46:59 am »
Cordain has mentioned the 65%/35% paleodiet  ratio re animal foods versus plant fooods in the past. Perhaps it was on beyondveg.com or his palaeodiet books. Will take time to check. Ah, here is a reference:-

http://forum.lowcarber.org/showthread.php?t=52311
That's what I said--Cordain reports the 65%/35% figure, but he doesn't specifically advocate that precise figure for anyone as dietary advice. Voyajer writes at that post you linked to:

"Cordain's Paleo Diet Book contradicts the evidence he has actually published in peer-reviewed medical journals on the hunter-gatherer diet. His articles show that the paleo diet consisted of:
1. Greater than 50% animal foods (65% animal, 35% plant)"

In other words, Cordain reported that figure but didn't recommend it as precise dietary advice for everyone. His point was more that the extreme claims of vegetarians, vegans, Ornish and others that animal foods should be minimized are not supported by the data. Once again the link you provide supports my point and contradicts your claim (that Cordain was advocating a precise 65%/35% animal/plant volume ratio for people as specific dietary advice). Thank you for making my point.

Voyajer actually goes even farther than I would in claiming his book "contradicts the evidence" he reported by strongly advocating lots of fruits and veg. That's somewhat misleading, as he doesn't just report that 65%/35% volume number--in The Paleo Diet and elsewhere he also reports the ranges of hunter-gatherer macronutrient intakes as a percentage of calories, and he removed the highest-latitude data from his ranges, producing a lower-fat emphasis. If you look on page 11 of the Paleo diet you'll see that Cordain reports the following ranges for "The Paleo Diet":

Protein: 19-35%
Carbohydrate: 22-40%
Fat: 28-47%

When I first read the Paleo Diet and some of Cordains papers, it puzzled me that in his book he reported 47% as the upper end of the HG fat intake range, but elsewhere he mentioned 58% (such as here: http://www.thepaleodiet.com/articles/Meat%20Paradox%20Final.pdf). It turns out he excluded data from the "highest latitudes" from the range in his book, which would according to Cordain increase the higher end of this range to 58%. It's disappointing that he didn't explain this in his book (not that I've noticed, anyway). Other people who have researched Arctic peoples claim the upper range should be raised to as high as 80% or more (such as Stephen D. Phinney, MD and Jay Wortman, MD).

One of the peoples that Cordain excluded from his ranges were the Nunamiut of Alaska who ate 99% animal foods and 1% plant foods by volume. As I recall, I think Cordain also excluded the data at the other extreme: high-plant-consuming groups of the !Kung and Hazda, but I can't find any references for that at the moment.

As I recall, Cordain's justification of his data exclusions is that the peoples of Arctic and arid lands are extreme outliers that skew the data. However, northwestern Europeans, from whom many Americans are descended, have ancestors and ancestral homelands that may be more similar to the Arctic peoples and homelands than the people and homelands of higher-carb-consuming HGs. Plus, megafauna with large fat depots that were selectively eaten were abundant during the "carnivore guild" era of the Paleolithic, so humans apparently ate more fat when it was available. So I'm not so sure that Arctic HGs should be excluded from the data when it comes to European Americans and perhaps not for anyone. Maybe they should even be emphasized, as HGs from the same latitudes as the ancestors of European Americans are underrepresented because the HG lifestyle was largely forced out of these latitudes by Neolithic civilizations long ago and because megafauna are increasingly scarce these days in most HG lands.

So while Cordain's book advocated a carb range of 22-40% and fat range of 28-47%, I found that I actually do better on a 0.5-5% carb range and 70 - 85% fat range, and some of the peoples that Cordain excluded from his data also apparently consumed carb and fat intakes within the ranges that I do well on. That's what I mean when I say that The Paleo Diet influenced me to eat more carby plant foods than it turns out I do well on. Cordain's advice to "eat lots of good carbohydrates–from fruits and vegetables" (http://www.beezernotes.com/wordpress/?tag=dr-loren-cordain) turned out to be detrimental for me.

That being said, I still think Dr. Cordain has made a valuable contribution to the field of evolutionary/Paleolithic nutrition that was defended well here:

JMC said...
"I think people attack Cordain all the time, which is a shame, since he's one of the very few scientists who research primitive diets and who has published lots of scientific papers on it (which have alerted some health authorities to the fact that the typical dietary recommendations are very far from ideal). If it wasn't for Cordain, Eaton and Lindeberg, Paleo Diet would be labeled as Quackery.

Instead, he and his colleagues have managed to show that a number of diseases that very few people linked to diet are in fact related to diet and are absent or rare in H/G (myopia, acne, auto-immune diseases).

Nevertheless, as every human being on this planet, he makes mistakes and when he acknowledges them, he tries to correct them. In that regard, I don't know why there are so many people insulting the guy."

Stephan said...
"... I agree for the most part. Cordain has done some very valuable things."


http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/04/cordain-on-saturated-fat.html
« Last Edit: September 12, 2010, 01:57:26 am by PaleoPhil »
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Online TylerDurden

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Re: Cordain, hero or heretic?
« Reply #32 on: September 12, 2010, 07:44:18 pm »
Obviously, Cordain isn't too fanatical re an exact percentage intake of animal and plant foods. However, he routinely uses the 65%/35% animal food/plant food ratio as a reasonable estimate of the palaeolithic diet, in order to explain his acid/alkali theory in particular.
"What is the point of growing up If you can't be childish sometimes..." - Tom Baker as Dr Who.

Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Cordain, hero or heretic?
« Reply #33 on: September 13, 2010, 02:56:06 am »
I agree with that, and do you see now from the data and quotes I provided what I was referring to re: how his book and articles partly steered me toward a diet higher in fruits and veg than it turned out was best for me?
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

 

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