We can rightly say 2013 is a paleo-year. In 2008 I wrote my first article on this blog. Never before were there so many newspaper articles and books published. Without mentioning paleo or prehistoric diets, Kris Verburgh (The Food Hourglass) and Ralph Moorman (the Hormone Factor, Grocery Coach etc.) wrote rather #softpaleo related books. Both like to refer to the evolution and the fact that genetically speaking we relatively don’t change much. Nature designed our digestion and metabolism to digest food as consumed since the beginning of mankind – about 200,000 years ago. Over the past 50 years our ‘environment’ has experienced huge change, which also explains the “unhealthiness” of modern man.
My father gave me the NRC newspaper article “Man grew up on tubers” by Wim Kohler. I’ve read it with great pleasure. I got the impression that Wim Kohler is making an effort to subvert ‘paleo’ using the “tuber-argument”. He also mentions the controversy amongst the designers of the modern paleo diets. Yes, it’s correct, if you follow Melchior Meijer, Lindeberg, Moorman of Verburgh for a while you’ll always find differences in emphasis that could make you believe there’s a battle of faith going on. I think this image is incorrect. The dietary advice of named experts shows a 90% match. The basis is a lot of vegetables, some fruit, and nuts, a bit of meat, fish and crustaceans. And plenty of (animal) fat. Furthermore there seems to be consensus about resisting wheat products like pasta and bread. And of course all modern nutritionists think we should be very careful with sugar and sugar containing products like sodas. Most of them also advise to minimize the consumption of dairy products (unless limited fermented – I’ll get back to that) to a couple of portions per week.
The newspaper article specifically mentions starchy tubers. To this group belong potatoes, carrots, red beets etc. Wim Kohler states that modern man’s DNA contains up to 18 copies for alpha-amylase (a starch degrading enzyme in our saliva). In short, that we modern man are very well capable of digesting starch. I think nobody will contest this point. The starchy tubers mentioned earlier form a fine energy source and we modern man can indeed convert starch to (mono) sugars.
Starch from tubers – often with a more favorable glycemic index than bread – forms as far as I’m concerned a good part of our daily nutrition. Potatoes contain RS, vitamin C and fibers. The aforementioned nutritionists will not contest this. But the question is how much carbohydrates do we need and how to limit the intake of carbohydrates in an environment of abundance. Paleo – or let’s call it #softpaleo – is highly suitable for that purpose.
And what about those tubers? These should mainly be eaten in the evening as energy balancing item. If your weight is healthy then you should not lose weight. And after the daily consumption of healthy amounts of proteins (1.2 grams per kilogram bodyweight), lots – and lots – of vegetables in different colors, nuts and some fruit (no more than two pieces), tubers in the evening form a terrific part of your meal. So those are potatoes, carrots etc, but consume these tubers moderately. Just a bit, not too much. Rather tubers than wheat, bread, rice or pasta. #softpaleo is not completely without carbohydrates, maybe only low-carb compared to the food guide pyramid. But #softpaleo is without wheat/bread/pasta and preferably without sugar (so no sugar in your coffee, and no sodas). A healthy #softpaleo food pattern contains carrots and potatoes (sometimes chips 😉 ). It’s not without a reason that already three years ago I wrote that a classic Dutch meal is rather healthy.
More about healthy food patterns:
Softpaleo nutritional advice of a chemical technologist specialized in food technology but not trained in nutrition and health