Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Paleo Diet Q & A - 11.18.09

Dear Readers,

Here's today's edition of Q & A from the Paleo Diet community. Thanks to those of you who've left questions and comments in reply to these posts. Our team is currently reviewing all outstanding questions and will have answers to post soon.

Q: My question is regarding the consumption of milk. There are a great number of coaches around the country who advocate at least moderate, if not generous, amounts of milk in their athletes' diets. Does it not provide a good source of protein and carbohydrate balance, not to mention the calcium content? What is the paleo stance on milk and why?

A: There are several reasons why not to consume dairy products:

Hominids evolved during 2.6 million years behaving as hunter-gatherers.

Although there wasn’t a single diet, and diet rather varied by latitude, season, climate, culture, etc., all ancestral diets shared key characteristics. Food sources were limited to unprocessed foraged plants, and unprocessed land and marine animals hunted from the proximate environment. As such, human diets consisted of combinations of wild animal carcasses (including brains, bone marrow, and organs), shellfish, fish, fruits, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, insects, larvae, nuts, seasonal honey, and eggs.

Ten thousand years ago, major changes in the environment happened, including the human diet. New foods, such as cereal grains, legumes, dairy, vegetable oils, refined sugars, fatty domesticated meats and salt, were introduced.

Since that time, there is strong evidence that our genome has remained essentially unchanged over the past 10,000 years. Evolutionary medicine predicts that these environmental changes may have caused adverse effects.

Indeed, it is believed that this mismatch between our ancient genome and the modern environment (including our modern diet) is at the root of the so-called diseases of western civilization, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, dislipidemia, hypertension, certain types of cancer, acne, autoimmune diseases, myopia, polycystic ovary syndrome and more.

Regarding dairy, we know that this food group was not available for human intake prior to the onset of animal husbandry--roughly 9,000 years ago in the Middle East, and 7,000 years ago in Northern Europe. So dairy is a relatively new food on an evolutionary time scale, which explains why it may produce the following adverse effects, through different mechanisms:
  • Milk is a source of estrogens and dihydrotestosterone precursors, which can increase the risk of certain cancers and acne.
  • Milk increases IGF-1, and the IGF-1/IGFBP-3 ratio, and this increases the risk of certain cancers and acne--among other diseases--as explained by Dr. Cordain in his 2003 paper “Hyperinsulinemic diseases of civilization: more than just syndrome X” (
  • Milk contains insulin, and bovine insulin differs in only 3 amino acids from human insulin. This feature can increase the risk of Type 1 diabetes in genetically susceptible persons.
  • Betacellulin: is a hormone belonging to the EGF family of hormones. If it is confirmed that Betacellulin is able to enter circulation, then there is a very good possibility that it may increase the susceptibility of certain epithelial cancers.
  • Milk elevates insulin as much as white bread. Constantly elevating plasma insulin levels may lead to insulin resistance, which is at the root of several metabolic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes or hypertension.
  • High calcium intake adversely affects zinc absorption, a key mineral in more than 300 enzymatic reactions.
  • Milk contains several allergenic proteins.
  • Dairy products, especially hard cheeses, yield a very high net acidic load which might lead to calcium and muscle loss and decrease growth hormone.
In sports nutrition BCAA intake is crucial for muscle recovery. Lean meat is the biggest sources of BCAA (33 grs/1000Kcal). Dairy contains much less BCAA (12 grs/1000Kcal), so if you replace lean meats with dairy you are taking much less BCAA which is crucial in muscle recovery.

Q: I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis about 3 years ago. It started off as a very mild case but recently progressed to the point where my doctor was discussing having my colon removed if a new medication (Remicade) did not work. Being on Remicade has helped, and I was able to put 20 pounds back on. However, I do not believe in medication alone. I believe that diet is a key component to living a healthy life. I follow the Paleo Diet which has helped tremendously. I know that there are certain foods like night shade vegetables, which are part of the Paleo Diet, that I should avoid. Is there any other foods on the Paleo Diet that I should eliminate?

A: Yes, autoimmune patients should make some changes regarding The Paleo Diet:
  • Nightshade (potatoes, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes) should be removed from your diet as they contain harmful lectins and saponins.
  • Egg white is a source of a membranolytic (breaks cell membranes) protein--namely Lisozyme--and therefore should also be removed from your diet.
  • Remember that soy beans derived products, as well as peanuts, are legumes. They should be removed from your diet.
  • Another harmful nutrients are quinoa, amaranth and root beer.
You can find more info in our "How to Treat MS with Diet" program, which is available from our website:


  1. So these changes regarding nightshade veggies, eggwhites, etc. would also apply to type 1 diabetics?

    Peppers are one of my favorite veggies, I have been sticking to the red & green (advice from Dr. Bernstein's book Diabetes Solution), but did not realize even they could be harmful. Please clarify. Thank you!

  2. I looked up the glycemic index of these foods, and bread gets a 75, while milk gets a 37. You state that milk raises your insulin levels as much as white bread. How?

  3. While I agree with many of those principles, I don't know how I feel about your claims on dairy. We ARE born drinking mothers milk. Perhaps you should compare cow milk to human milk if you want to make a valid point.

  4. Posted on behalf of Pedro:

    Dear Tom, if you want I can recommend various scientific papers showing some of the adverse effects of cow's milk (human milk is completely different than cow's milk and from an evolutionary perspective, milk is species specific; and when we talk about milk, we are always talking about non-human milk). One scientist that has published some interesting papers is our good friend Dr. Bodo Melnik, a dermatologist from Germany. If you go on and put Melnik B on the search engine, you will find his papers on dairy.

    We also have 5 or 6 newsletters where we discuss some of the potential adverse effects of milk and dairy, so if you have signed up for these newsletters, you will receive it in the near future.

    Thank you for your comment.

    Best wishes,
    Pedro Bastos

  5. Posted on behalf of Maelán:

    Hi Tom,

    Yes, definitely we were born drinking mother's milk, however, that was during the fast growth period (first 2 to 2,5 years) when the baby needs a hormonal cascade leading to increased cellular proliferation, and hence increased lineal growth. All milks are rich in hormones and proteins supporting the rapid growth period, but the question is: do we need an increased cellular proliferation in adult period? Probably not, as shown by Dr. Cordain in one of his scientific papers (, this may increase the risk of several western diseases, such as certain type of cancers, myopia, male vertex baldness, polycystic ovary syndrome, acne, acanthosis nigricans, among others.

    Of course, mother's milk would be a better option than cow's milk because the probability of allergy to mother's milk proteins is probably zero. Nevertheless, as long as I know there's no commercial mother's milk available, at least in European supermarkets.

    Having said this, we do heavily recommend neonates to be breast fed as long as possible since this practice decreases the risk of several chronic illnesses, especially allergies and autoimmune diseases.

    I hope this is useful.

    Best wishes,


The Paleo Diet Team invites you to leave comments or post questions to our blog. We receive a great amount of feedback, but we are not able to always answer personally. We read all comments, and we are very interested in hearing your thoughts, learning about your experiences, and understanding what questions you have. Note that we review all comments before publishing them on the blog. Comments posted that do not contain questions or comments related to paleo nutrition, or those that point to web sites that do not provide content that would be deemed helpful to our readers, will be rejected.

Thank you.
The Paleo Diet Team