Thursday, January 7, 2010

Paleo Diet Q & A - 7 January 2010

Dear Readers,

Here is today's edition of Paleo Diet Q & A.

Q: Hello,

I heard Dr. Cordain speak twice in optometry meetings. He understood everything about his diet, but both times, I left with the same question in my head: what about eggs?

SO if you could please pass it on to him, I would appreciate it. Because eggs are a source of lutein which is very bioavailable and because lutein is extremely important in ocular health, I would like to know what his opinion is on that.


A: Dear Barbara,

Eggs are part of The Paleo Diet, as humans have consumed eggs during the paleolithic era, although not in a year round basis (because bird eggs appear only seasonally), hence Dr. Cordain has advocated eggs, specially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, in his three books. One of the egg white functions is to protect the yolk against microbal attack using proteolytic enzymes, besides being storage of nutrients for the growing embryo and transport of nutrients into the growing embryo. Except for ovoalbumen, most of the proteins in egg white have antimicrobial, antibacterial or antiviral activity, some of these proteins are called ovomucoid, ovomucin and lysozyme, among others. These proteins may disrupt the integrity of the gut lining leading to increased intestinal permeability and lysozyme is the most harmful of these proteins in terms of membranolytic activity (breakdown of cell membranes). We recommend that patients suffering from autoimmune diseases to avoid egg white at the beginning as Lysozyme may increase intestinal permeability which is one of the contributing factors in autoimmune diseases. Another issue is egg allergy which is quite common.

On the other hand, eggs are rich in selenium, vitamin A, vitamin D and the B vitamins, and some minerals.

If the person does not suffer from autoimmune disease or egg allergy it shouldn't be a problem to eat eggs.

I hope this helps.

Q: Is The Paleo Diet an option for someone with Type 1 Diabetes being treated with Coumadin?

A: Yes, The Paleo Diet will work good for you. Indeed, in our previous newsletter (v_5#36 2009) we reported how The Paleo Diet influences the different pathways involved in the disorder.

There are several known factors of the western diet contributing to triggering Type 1 Diabetes:
  • Proteins found in cow's milk: Beta-Lactoglobulin, Bovine Insulin, Bovine Serum Albumin and Beta Casomorphin-7.
  • Proteins found in cereal grains: Gluten is a well known trigger of an autoimmune disease associated with T1D called Celiac Disease. A gluten-free diet led to improvement in insulin response during a glucose tolerance test.
  • Another factor at the root of almost all autoimmune diseases is increased intestinal permeability. Certain substances found in the typical western diet (lectins, saponins, gliadin, alcohol and capsaicin) may increase intestinal permeability.
  • Other factors such as diet's fatty acid composition or vitamin D deficiency contribute to the pathogenesis of T1D.
The Paleo Diet is free of all those harmful substances, being based on lean meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Finally, a low glycemic load diet will help you to better control your blood glucose levels in the long run.

On the other hand, if you are taking Coumadin it shouldn't be a problem with The Paleo Diet unless you are consuming high amount of omega-3 or vitamin E supplements.

I hope this helps.


  1. An addendum in the answer to Barbara: lutein is concentrated in the egg yolk, so discarding the egg white is not a problem for the sake of your concern.

    Personally, I think there are more reasons to not consume the egg white than to do it. By the other hand, it seems to me there are only benefits from eating the yolk. Am I right, Dr. Cordain? Are there any limits to safe amounts in its consumption?

  2. Hi there, Team, I've been on the Paleo diet for a month, and like it very much. (Hey, the weight just falls off!) I just have one query: with snow blanketing a lot of northern Europe for some months of the year, wouldn't primitive peoples have collected grains and root vegetables to see them through? (I understand they would have dried fish and meat.) So there would be, in essence, a seasonal use of grains/roots.

  3. Posted on behalf of Dr. Cordain:

    Hi Danielle,

    It is difficult for fully modern people to put themselves in the role of hunter gatherers, and what we do on a day to day basis is vastly different from our pre-agricultural ancestors. Something as simple as storage of food, generally was not part of the hunter gatherer experience, as they generally picked up all of their belongings and moved around their territory every few weeks. Hence, it was impractical to move large caches of food with them as they foraged and changed their base camps.

    Additionally, large caches of food were vulnerable to spoilage and predation by birds, insects, and rodents unless they were continually guarded. For the most part, food was consumed fresh as it was foraged, hunted and fished from the environment. Long term storage of plant food over winter only came about when humans settled into permanent or semi permanent settlements which marked the beginnings of the agricultural revolution.

    Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor

  4. Please rewrite the the lysozyme section. Lysozyme is an enzyme that breaks down peptidoglycan. Humans obviously do not have peptidoglycan. It makes up the bacterial cell wall. I think some one got lost on this one.

    Lysozyme has no eukaryotic membranolytic activity (btw membranolytic is not even a word.)

    Please fix Loren.

  5. membranolytic
    membranolytic -(biology) That disrupts a biological membrane


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