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What Paleo Means (To Me)

Monday 21st January, 2013

I want to clarify what I mean when I say “I eat Paleo”.

‘Paleo’ is a framework for generating falsifiable hypotheses about nutrition, based on the principle that the foods human beings adapted to eat over millions of years of evolution are definitely safe, and that for new additions to our diet, there exists a burden of proof to demonstrate safety.

It is strongly desirable for these hypotheses to be tested through randomized intervention studies (rather than epidemiological observations); in vitro results should be taken with a pinch of salt but may still provide useful suggestions for further study.

It is recognized that safety of a food is not defined solely by short-term toxicity or lack thereof, but with respect to the entire organism: chronic effects on the serum and hormonal responses (e.g. glucose and insulin), organs (e.g. non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), systemic inflammation, the immune system, gut flora, interactions with other components of the diet, et cetera. We realize that practical studies can’t be perfect, but we can interpret the evidence we get, and individually decide whether to take the risk.

‘Paleo’ completely defies the typical ‘fad diet’ label—because it’s just science-based nutrition.