You’ve probably heard the news: Paleo came in dead last in US News and World Report’s “best diets” list. But here’s why you shouldn’t worry about it:
USN’s “Paleo Diet” wasn’t actually Paleo!
Take a look at the description of “Paleo” from USN’s ranking site:
“Paleo diets are based on a simple premise—if the cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either.”
Wrong! Paleo is about learning from evolution, not imitation. Cavemen didn’t have access to any of the foods in the modern supermarket. The site goes on to describe Paleo as a “low-carb” diet (wrong!) and extremely high in protein (wrong!). So the version of “Paleo” that this test was evaluating isn’t actually Paleo, making it questionably relevant at best.
All the points against “Paleo” are bunk.
The rest of the article is just a rehash of the same tired “debunking Paleo” arguments that have been torn apart time and time again. Paleo loses points for having “too much fat” (despite the fact that fat is actually good for you), “not enough calcium” (see here to set your mind at rest about that one), and “not enough Vitamin D” (even though no diet provides Vitamin D; you get it through sunlight).
There’s also a claim that Paleo puts you at risk for nutrient deficiencies without grains and dairy, but this is wrong again! There’s nothing in grains and dairy that you can’t also get elsewhere, as the editors would have known if they’d bothered to spend 5 minutes looking it up (for more information on this, see here.)
Ultimately, the USN rankings don’t measure how good or bad the diets are; they only measure how closely they conform to the conventional low-fat, low-salt, high-carb model of “health food.” Considering how badly this model has been failing us, it’s probably encouraging to see that Paleo doesn’t fit it very well!
With that out of the way, take a look at a few other pieces of news from this week:
- This fascinating study reviews the evidence about probiotics and neurodevelopmental disorders. Apparently, a specific probiotic species can relieve symptoms in mice with autism spectrum disorders. The results were so promising that human research may be next:
- Speaking of high-protein diets, this post explains a study showing how protein use becomes less efficient the more protein you eat. It’s important to get enough protein, but more is not always better!
- Some welcome news for a change: the FTC has busted four companies for selling fraudulent weight-loss products, including the ever-popular HCG diet (eat 500 calories a day while drinking hormones from pregnant women’s urine, and you’ll lose weight!).
- Scientific American explains why you don’t need to worry about eating fish, even after Fukushima.
- And finally, Nathanael Johnson wraps up 6 months of research into GMO foods by concluding that it might not matter nearly as much as we think it does. Industrial agriculture would be a disaster with or without GMOs, so why are we so fixated on them?