Dr Kurt Harris’ PāNu principles of paleolithic nutrition are spot on. His blog has since disappeared from the web, but his twelve-step program is still a good synopsis of the principles of LCHF nutrition.
A modified paleolithic diet that can improve your health by duplicating the evolutionary metabolic milieu.
by Kurt G. Harris MD
How do you do it?
Here is a 12- step list of what to do. Go as far down the list as you can in whatever time frame you can manage. The further along the list you stop, the healthier you will be. There is no counting, measuring, or weighing. You are not required to purchase anything specific from me or anyone else. There are no special supplements, drugs or testing required.*
- Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks) and all flour.
- Start eating proper fats – Use healthy animal fats to substitute fat calories for carbohydrate calories that formerly came from sugar and flour. Drink whole cream or coconut milk .
- Eliminate gluten grains.
- Eliminate grain and seed derived oils (cooking oils) Cook with ghee, butter, animal fats, or coconut oil.
- Favor ruminants like beef, lamb, and bison for your red meat. Eat some fish.
- Get daily midday sun or take 4-8000 iu vit D daily.
- Try intermittent fasting or infrequent meals (2 meals per day is best). Don’t graze like an herbivore.
- Adjust your 6s and 3s. Pastured (grassfed) dairy and grassfed beef or bison minimizes excess n-6 fatty acids and adjusts your 6:3 ratio without excess PUFA.
- Proper exercise – emphasizing resistance and interval training over long aerobic sessions.
- Modern fruit is just a candy bar from a tree. Stick with berries and avoid watermelon, which is pure fructose. Eat in moderation.
- Eliminate legumes.
- Eliminate all remaining dairy including cheese- (now you are “orthodox paleolithic”).
No counting, measuring or weighing is required, nor is it encouraged.
The plan is about what not to eat more than what you should eat.
Did you notice that there is no step that says what your macronutrient ratios should be? Good, because there isn’t (and never has been) one.
See How to Lose Weight if you are obese or have metabolic syndrome or diabetes. Otherwise, the ratios are not specified. PāNu practitioners typically range from 5-35% carbohydrate, from 10-30% protein, and from 50 to 80% fat (mostly from animals), but wider ranges are entirely possible if you are not dieting and you are meticulous about the quality of your animal food sources.
PāNu tends to be lower carbohydrate than the standard american diet (SAD), but it is not really a “low carb” diet as you do not count anything, you just avoid certain foods that happen to be largely carbohydrate. Most PāNu eaters only know macronutrient metrics in retrospect, as they don’t target numbers just like wild paleolithic humans didn’t target numbers.
If you are not fat and you like to eat potatoes, EAT THEM. I don’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t.
If you can do step 1, that is about 50% of the benefit and alone a huge improvement on the standard american diet (SAD) By about step 6, you are at about 75%, by step 9 about 80%, and at 10 you are at 99% for most people. These are just estimates, of course.
Here is the kernel of the theory:
Insulin is a phylogenetically old hormone. It is a biological messenger that in excess, is metabolically saying the following to your tissue and organs: “Go ahead and store energy, mature, reproduce and die.” Hyperinsulinism in humans is linked to diabetes, alzheimer dementia, metabolic syndrome, obesity, coronary disease and epithelial cancers.
Hyperinsulinism is related to metabolic derangements that are likely caused by the neolithic agents of disease:
The three main neolithic agents are Fructose, Wheat and excess Linoleic Acid (n-6 PUFA).
We did not evolve under conditions of food excess, especially regarding the neolithic agents. During most of our evolutionary past, food was intermittently available and not superabundant like today. Scarcity and famine were frequent until recently in evolutionary time. Preferred foods were available year round and dense in calories and nutrients. Animal products, including organs and bone marrow of mammals, fish, and invertebrates (insects) were the preferred foods, supplemented by edible plants (not grains) until the dawn of agriculture. Fruit was seasonal and not yet bred for maximum sweetness. Food was eaten less frequently, on average had lower fructose, n-6 and usually carbohydrate content than the typical american diet , and was likely characterized by often involuntary periods of intermittent fasting.
Humans are omnivores on the carnivorous end of the spectrum. Not canids, but closer to canids than chimpanzees.
Like most animals that are not birds, we are not adapted to eating grass seeds, to which we have been significantly exposed for only about 10,000 years. They contain molecules that are specifically designed to discourage consumption, as well as other problematic chemicals.
The diet is not about eating exactly what “cavemen” ate, or killing your own food. It is solely about more closely duplicating what I believe are the key elements of the internal hormonal metabolic milieu that we evolved under from especially less than 1 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago. This is likely to be achieved not by eating specific things, but more by not eating specific things.
Is there a way to live in a world of abundant food while avoiding the risk of metabolic syndrome and associated diseases of civilization and the immune dysfunction associated with eating grass seeds that cannot even be eaten without mechanical processing ?
Yes, you can work your way down this list.
* This is not medical advice. I am confident this is the healthiest way to eat based on currently available science. However, if you have any serious medical condition that requires treatment and in particular if you take medication for diabetes, thyroid disorders or autoimmune diseases, make dietary changes only in consultation with your physician. Your medications may need to be adjusted, as you may well need less of them!
Kurt G. Harris MD
To your health!
Clark and Nina