Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dr. Mike about Denise and Death by Food Pyramid

She discusses the notion that the meat eaten by our Paleo ancestors was different than the meat we eat today, and implies that those following a Paleo type of eating regimen aren't really eating Paleo. Why? Because Paleo man ate from nose to tail. He ate the entire animal, including all the parts modern man avoids, such as the viscera, offal, and organs. Typically, if reports from contact with contemporary hunting societies are indicative of how Paleo man behaved, the muscle meats — the ones most of us Westernized folk eat — were not prized as much as the organs and offal and were often fed to the dogs.
I have a little different perspective.
The organs, offal and viscera supposedly contain a lot more nutrients than the muscle meat. And, compared to muscle meat, they are filled with considerably more fat, much of which is saturated. Consequently, those following an ancestral diet are encouraged to limit muscle meat and increase consumption of organs, offal, and viscera, i.e., eat nose to tail. I have no argument with this other than it's often difficult to find organs, viscera, and offal unless you are on a farm or in a major city. Santa Barbara, where we live part of the time, is an upscale small city with three or four natural food grocers, including Whole Foods, and about the most exotic organ meat I can regularly find is liver. I suspect it's the same in most other places. Those of you who live in foodie towns, such as Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, and New York can probably find all kinds of organ meats, but the rest of us either have to resort to ordering online, butchering our own, or doing without.
But all is not lost. First, although organ meats have more nutrients than muscle meats, it's not all that much more. Run a search on the USDA Database of Foods, and you'll see what I mean. Compare beef steak to beef liver or kidneys. Not a lot of difference except for the vitamin A in the liver.
A muscle meat diet can provide most, if not all, of what you need nutrient-wise. If you're worried, supplement with a multi vitamin.
I suspect our ancient ancestors were drawn to the organ meats and offal not because they knew they were more nutrient dense (how did they know?), but because of their greater fat content. Thankfully, agricultural science has come to our rescue. We modern folk enjoy steaks and chops and roasts more than we do the inner organs of beasts and fowls, so modern farmers now produce muscle meats that contain more fat than wild game. So we can get the fat of the organ meats while at the same time getting almost the same level of nutrients.
Many purists consider the muscle meats to be overloaded with fat and turn to the organ meats and offal instead. I say, what's the difference? I would much prefer a juicy, medium rare ribeye steak than I would a kidney or spleen or lung (and I've eaten them all), so why not get the fat in my steak?
Denise's book is a great read for several reasons, I highly recommend it as a foundational book in understanding the diet wars, and several nuances in the science of diet and health that are not well articulated elsewhere.

I like Dr. Mike Eades' point also - organ meats from grass fed and healthy animals are very potent in nutrients, but modern and unusually fat muscle meat is a more reasonable substitute than many would think.

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