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Yael Grauer
02-12-2007, 07:01 PM
I didn't know there was a rebuttal! A friend pointed this out to me. I think Cordain won this round.


Sally Fallon dissing the Paleo Diet (http://www.westonaprice.org/bookreviews/paleodiet.html)

Cordain's rebuttal (http://www.thepaleodiet.com/faqs/#Misc)

Craig Cooper
02-12-2007, 09:07 PM
I didn't know Sally Fallon wrote a review of the Paleo Diet! Kudos to Cordain again for being level headed and factual to the best of his knowledge.

Yael Grauer
02-12-2007, 09:26 PM
My favorite part was when he called it a "satirical ploy to invalidate the entire concept of evolutionary nutrition based upon irrelevant information." Ouch!! Or maybe when he said "I don’t believe Fallon has ever analyzed the tissues of any wild animals - we have, and our scientific results are much different than her opinions." Double ouch!!

Robert Allison
02-13-2007, 08:26 AM
Cordain does make some good points about certain apects of Fallon's review, but I think that the larger issues discussed are still up for debate.

It has been a while since I read it, but, IIRC, Cordain's book did seem to have an anti-saturated fat bias. I know that sometimes things get edited or re-written by the publisher and that could very well have happened here. In his rebuttal, Cordain references other articles and research papers, but Fallon's review was specifically of The Paleo Diet book, not necessarily of Cordain's work as a whole. I personally came away from reading this book with some of the same concerns.

Much of Cordain's reasoning seems to rest on the premise that cholesterol and saturated fat are harmful. But there are a number of doctors and researchers, other than Mary Enig, who have a different perspective. And while I do agree with Cordain that the fat obtained from feedlot beef is unhealthy and to be avoided, I know that the Weston Price folks endorse eating grass-fed, not grain-fed beef.

Yael Grauer
02-13-2007, 12:34 PM
I love the Weston Price Fdn. I'm actually a member. I don't like the whole thumbs up/thumbs down book review section in general because they give "thumbs down" reviews to people like Ornish and D'Adamo along with people like Cordain. I thought the review in question was particularly mean-spirited. I would prefer if they would focus on what they agree and disagree with instead of trashing the entire book and making generalizations about the authors. This ticked me off too: http://www.westonaprice.org/bookreviews/protein_power.html

I would hate for people who haven't read these books to think they are exactly what Sally Fallon says they are. I love her cookbook, but I'm sure I could trash it too by pointing out the few things I disagree with (it's grain-heavy, there's a lot of flax oil used in it, nobody can find half the ingredients, some people can't digest even raw dairy, etc.)

I was wondering if they'd ever review the Body Ecology Diet book and what they'd say because it advocates the use of soy, and eating for your blood type and is anti-salt...but I think the author is on the WP Board of Directors IIRC.

Robert Allison
02-13-2007, 01:15 PM
Hi Yael,

You are correct that Donna Gates (author of The Body Ecology Diet) is an honorary board member of the WAP Foundation. While Donna does have a different take on blood type diets than Sally, their perspectives on soy and salt are fairly similar. Both believe that soy should only be consumed in a fermented form (tempeh, natto, etc.) and that salt should be a natural, unrefined variety.

Sally Fallon does, at times, have a fairly intense writing style. I suspect this intensity is just a reflection of the passion she brings to her work and is very different from the graciousness she conveys in person. I guess some people just naturally adopt a "take no prisoners" voice when writing.

I am not necessarily against Cordain or The Paleo Diet; it is certainly better than a lot of diet & nutrition books that are out there. My main challenge with the interpretation of the paleo diet presented in his book is that, IMHO, it is a little too low in fat.

Overall, I tend to think that getting a balance of different fats is necessary for good health. Donna Gates recently had a nice article on this topic:

http://www.bodyecology.com/07/01/25/eat_a_range_of_good_oils.php

Yael Grauer
02-13-2007, 01:24 PM
While Donna does have a different take on blood type diets than Sally, their perspectives on soy and salt are fairly similar. Both believe that soy should only be consumed in a fermented form (tempeh, natto, etc.) and that salt should be a natural, unrefined variety.

Actually I recall the BED book stating that salt should be avoided and that non-fermented soy was okay. I unfortunately lent that book out so can't look it up, though.

Sally Fallon does, at times, have a fairly intense writing style. I suspect this intensity is just a reflection of the passion she brings to her work and is very different from the graciousness she conveys in person. I guess some people just naturally adopt a "take no prisoners" voice when writing.


I think you can be passionate about your work without being unnecessarily mean; see the Protein Debate if you want an example of this. It's just unprofessional, really. Aside from the fact that many of the points appear to be flat-out wrong.

I am not necessarily against Cordain or The Paleo Diet; it is certainly better than a lot of diet & nutrition books that are out there. My main challenge with the interpretation of the paleo diet presented in his book is that, IMHO, it is a little too low in fat.

Cordain himself put together a team that analyzed the macronutrient composition of all known hunter gatherer diets and fat was found to be between 28 and 58 percent. So I don't think it's fair to say that the Paleo Diet is too low in fat.

Cordain L, Brand Miller J, Eaton SB, Mann N, Holt SHA, Speth JD. Plant to animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in world wide hunter-gatherer diets. Am J Clin Nutr 2000, 71:682-92.

Again I wonder how many people get a negative and false impression of the Paleo Diet (and a few of the other books) from reading Sally Fallon's soundbite reviews. I know that several of us in my local WP chapter have issues with it.

Robert Allison
02-13-2007, 02:08 PM
Actually I recall the BED book stating that salt should be avoided and that non-fermented soy was okay. I unfortunately lent that book out so can't look it up, though.

From pg. 28 of The Body Ecology Diet: "Salt is the most contracting food, but its role has been completely misunderstood. The ordinary table salt that most of us eat is too refined; it lacks the minerals we need and has harmful effects on the body. High quality sea salt, however, is essential to life and has medicinal value in our diet."

From pg. 53: "When eating a food from the soybean, please make sure it is fermented. Miso, Natto, Tempeh and wheat-free sodium tamari are recommended in stage two of the BED."

Donna does mention that you can kefir soy milk, but makes it iclear that it is vastly inferior to raw cow's milk or coconut water.

I don't own The Paleo Diet; I just checked it out of the library. But, as best I recall, the recipes in the book were a little too low-fat for me. I require a higher percentage of my calories to come from fat. But if it works for others, great.

Disclosure Statement: I am the Editor of a newsletter published by The Grain & Salt Society®, the distributors of Celtic Sea Salt®. Our company also offers some of the products created by Donna Gates as part of her Body Ecology line and two books authored by Sally Fallon. I don’t usually mention this, because it has nothing to do with why I participate in this forum, but given some of the topics being discussed in this thread, I felt that some form of disclosure was appropriate.

Yael Grauer
02-13-2007, 02:22 PM
Like I said, I don't have the book in front of me because I lent it out. I specifically remember her recommending non-fermented soy though; perhaps it was an earlier edition. She also said you don't need salt to ferment. :confused: And I could write a long diatribe about how the blood type information is hype, but you could get that from the thumbs down book reviews on the Weston Price website: http://www.westonaprice.org/bookreviews/eat_right.html

This isn't to completely trash the entire book (Sally Fallon-style) because I think a lot of the information is important and accurate.

The Paleo Diet ratios are 30-60% fat iirc. I find it hard to believe that 60% fat isn't enough.

I think that all three books (Paleo Diet, Nourishing Traditions, Body Ecology Diet) despite their differences are awesome compared to the standard American diet and have way more similarities than differences. I just wish that Fallon would describe her specific concerns in a respectful, professional way instead of trashing people over the details.

Robb Wolf
02-13-2007, 06:36 PM
I don't know why people get panty bunched over Cordain's statements:

1-wild ruminants have a low concentration of sat'd fat RELATIVE to grain fed animals.
2-When our ancestors ate a relatively high fat diet contained significantly more mono and polyunsaturated fats than sat'd. Again this is in comparison to grain fed animals.
3-All the above considered he says saturated fat is a PIECE of the puzzle with regards to atherosclerosis and heart disease...not the only piece and not a guarantee of heart disease...just a factor that can have significance depending upon genetics and environmental factors, for example a high glycemic load AND high sat'd fat intake.


It is interesting to me that Fallon starts sounding like T. Collin Campbell, Mcdougal and others who resort to personal attacks and incendiary language to push thier views. Why? because they motivate by emotion, not fact.

My take on the BED-It has some information that is right by accident, not design. We certainly ingested fermenting bacteria in the past...it was not in the form of cultured soy. Eat it, don't eat it I could give a rip but when you sit down to analyze an approach to anything, be it bridge building or nutrition if you are not thinking about a scientific ( or at least clinical) approach to the problem it's just dogma and voodo. or perhaps I'm just dogmatic about evolutionary medicine...

Craig Cooper
02-13-2007, 07:38 PM
I agree totally with Robb. Cordain's book is perfect for his target audience: the average consumer.

Robert Allison
02-14-2007, 08:15 AM
Hi Robb,

Since at least part of your post seemed to reference my comments, I thought I would take a stab at clarifying things.

The issue of fermented soybeans came up because I was attempting to clarify what I understand to be the Body Ecology perspective on soy. I rarely, if ever, eat soybean (fermented or not). There is research that seems to indicate that an enzyme derived from natto may have cardio protective benefits, but I am not sure if just eating natto will deliver the same effect. In any case, it is not something that I have made a regular part of my diet; it is, shall we say, an “acquired” taste.

Although I have learned a great deal from Donna’s work, particularly in terms of digestive health and the importance of probiotics, my day-to-day eating is pretty far removed from BED. My meals tend to be higher in protein and fat, and when I am doing an IF feed meal, I definitely don’t follow the “80%” full rule

Is BED voodoo? I really don’t know--I guess it depends on how you define that term. I know that Donna has helped a lot of people with Candida and other digestive-related illnesses, and her protocol has also helped children with Autism and ADD/ADHD. In its emphasis on what works in the real world, BED can be likened to Metabolic Typing. To the best of my knowledge, there are no research studies supporting the principles of MT (correct me if I am wrong here). And yet, there are a number of trainers & practitioners who I respect (Charles Poliquin, Paul Chek, Joseph Mercola) successfully implementing MT in their work. While I recognize the necessity of research, I also value real world results, a “black box,” if you will.

Could these same results (or better) be obtained using The Paleo Diet? Perhaps, and that may already be happening. None of this is meant to be a slam on Cordain, nor were my other posts. As I believe I said, The Paleo Diet is certainly better than many nutritional books out there.

Yael said:

I think that all three books (Paleo Diet, Nourishing Traditions, Body Ecology Diet) despite their differences are awesome compared to the standard American diet...

I coulnd't agree more. At the end of the day, Dr. Cordain is who is he and Sally Fallon is who she is. I am sure that both have their adherents on this board and I am not really interested in trying to change anyone’s mind. Initially, I posted to this thread not so much to re-hash the Cordain vs. Fallon drama, but to discuss something more personally interesting, such as the ideal ratios of various fatty acids.

Robb Wolf
02-14-2007, 08:17 AM
I agree totally with Robb. Cordain's book is perfect for his target audience: the average consumer.

I was in fort Collins doing my research fellowship when the book came out. Cordain was a little crushed at how much science had been removed from the book to improve it's "readability". Although that is a bummer for us geeks, it almost certainly guaranteed that the book would sell well, which it did. And it's not like that science just disappeared! it is all on www.thepaleodiet.com for free!

Regarding that body of research...he has published on: autoimmunity, opthamology, dermatology, metabolism...I'm not sure how to convey this to folks who have not been in science before but you simply do not see this happen. Things are so specialized it is rare someone publishes across disciplines. The reason he is able to do this is because he is looking at problems in a way that offers insights largely hidden to people following standard scientific reductionism. Here is a great example that is completely ignored: Can H. sapiens survive on an all plant diet? The simple answer is without agriculture, no. Why? Looking at available foods and calculating the thermodynamic efficiency of gathering plant foods it is impossible to get enough calories...one must have dense calorie sources from animal foods to optimize return on investment with regards to foraging. The !kung tend to be fairly small and no one could figure out why. Robert Lee who studied the !Kung found that they live in a fairly marginal area and their smaller size accomodates a sparse and inhospitable environment. When the vegetarian debates rage no one ever attacks cordains data on this topic...they never look at the thermodynamic underpinning of our ancestral environments, never talk about optimum foraging strategy...never discuss any of the concepts or terminology of the SCIENCES involved in these questions! They look to isolated studies that lack any cohesion or underlying theory from which to assess pertinence or validity and launch sensationalistic personal attacks.

Does Crodain have the entire picture? No, no one does...but if you add in some sources like Lights OUT, Dr. Eades...Art devany you have a pretty complete picture AND enough contradictions among those folks to keep thinking and evaluating for years.

Robert Allison
02-14-2007, 08:20 AM
Wow, I think we just had some kind of simultaneous post... I hope it didn't tear a hole in the space-time continuum or anything. :)

Steve Liberati
02-14-2007, 08:46 AM
I agree totally with Robb. Cordain's book is perfect for his target audience: the average consumer.

Funny, I didn't get that from Robb's post at all:confused:

Instead, I think the point of his post, a good one at that, is the criticism we hear against Cordain doesn't have a two legs to stand on and is entirely motivated by emotion (read: ENVY) WITH very little scientific logic to back it up.

Although I'm a member of the WPF, I think this clearly boils down to jealousy on Sally's part. Her article was in poor taste and completely off-handed in my opinion.
Best way to describe it: Like athletes who take great pride and passion in their work, everyone is fighting for that top spot on the hill waving the golden flag. Unfortunately for Sally, Cordain owns the "evolutionary diet" position in the mind of most consumers. In marketing terms, Cordain has a stronger brand name than Sally (actually no comparison) and the WPF. Hence, the reason for the attack. She's trying to knock Cordain off the top of the hill.

Shame on her. In fact, starting to lose respect for the WPF with these sorry ass book reviews. Wish they would concentrate more on your own work and less on others.

Steve Liberati
02-14-2007, 08:52 AM
Oops didn't see Robb's follow-up before posting. Now my post looks as sorry as Sally's review, standing next to Robb:)

Mark Madonna
02-14-2007, 09:10 AM
Love the Paleo Diet. Makes a lot of sense. Have not read anything else. I have been on the Diet for 2 years now about 80% compliant with calories, Beer, Ice Cream and Cookie Dough are killers. I actually gained 20 pounds, from 230lb to 250 lb, and have lost a little in the waste and legs. For some reason I feel lighter.

Anything diet or plan telling you to eat 25-35% protein by calorie is going to beat any other diet IMHO. I think Dr. Cordain has a challenge of try eating as many doughnuts as you can at one sitting and count the calories. Then wait 4 hours until your stomach clears and try to eat the same amount of calories of a lean protein, like chicken breast. I can do 3 chicken breasts and I am pretty close to full. Fun exercise (doughnuts taste good), it really hit me on the head.

Robb Wolf
02-14-2007, 10:04 AM
Wow, I think we just had some kind of simultaneous post... I hope it didn't tear a hole in the space-time continuum or anything. :)

LOL! Yea...I had a buggar of a time getting that thing through.

Robert, appologies for my initial post...re-reading that i sound like an ass. Tired posting can be nearly as bad as drunk posting, sorry for the snarky tone.

Scott Kustes
02-14-2007, 11:33 AM
Does Crodain have the entire picture? No, no one does...but if you add in some sources like Lights OUT, Dr. Eades...Art devany you have a pretty complete picture AND enough contradictions among those folks to keep thinking and evaluating for years.
BINGO! This is the best statement in the entire thread. I've read Enter/Master the Zone, Lights Out, Paleo, PPLP, Art Devany's blog, everything posted on CrossFit, Robb's stuff, Dr. G's stuff, Weston Price, Anthony Colpo's stuff, etc. You take the bits from each that work through your personal black box and discard the rest. Paleo is an excellent foundation from which to start...from there you figure out what can work for you. Maybe it's raw milk, maybe it's some grains, maybe it's loads of saturated fat...whatever it is, there isn't a single one of those books that is my entire diet, but every one of them has contributed some and every one of them has something that I've moved past because it wasn't for me.

Robert Allison
02-14-2007, 12:34 PM
Hi Robb,

No worries... it's all good.

After re-reading my posts, I realized that it might not be completely clear where I was headed, so I tried to put a little structure to my thoughts.

Ditto what Scott said... one of the things I like most about the PM forum is the openness and "absorb what is useful" attitude.