Lately, it seems like more and more people are resorting to extreme measures to lose weight…
They’re following overly restrictive diets, like the so-called Paleo or Keto diets. And they’re adopting excessive exercise habits.
But as I’ve reported time and again — when it comes to diet and exercise, you don’t need to take these drastic measures to live a long and healthy life. In fact, these measures can actually harm your health and shorten your lifespan.
So, today, let’s take a closer look at what the real science tells us, starting with the science behind the suddenly popular Paleo diet…
The modernized, “pop” Paleo diet misses the mark
Back in the 1980s, I first began researching and writing about the prehistoric human diet. It was a natural area of interest for me, as I had received doctorate degrees in both medicine and anthropology.
In the course of my research, I looked at what ancient humans hunted, gathered, discarded, and later cultivated. I also studied modern-day populations that still follow a traditional subsistence — such as the Hadza in East Africa.
A few years into my research, I tried to explain to my colleagues at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that we should study this traditional diet for insight on how to prevent cancer and chronic diseases in our modern times.
My boss at NIH at the time was a smart guy and liked the idea. But we couldn’t make the study work at the time, because we were directed to use synthetic dietary supplement pills supplied by big pharma.
In the time that followed, I received some phone calls from a private clinical specialist — who, by the way, had no background or training in anthropology, nutrition, or metabolism. The next thing I knew, he had co-authored one of the first pop books on the Paleolithic diet.
And now, nearly 30 years later, this diet has become an international craze.
But the popular, modern version of this traditional diet completely misses the mark on several key points…
For one, it strictly forbids eating fruit, which studies link to lower disease risk. In fact, proponents of this overly strict diet seem to prefer to drop the “gatherer” — as in nut, seed, and berry gatherer — from the traditional, Paleolithic “hunter-gatherer” culture altogether.
In addition, devotees to the modern version of the Paleo diet also avoid eating dairy, which other studies link to improved digestive and metabolic health.
Granted, there are two good parts about the modernized version of the Paleo diet…
Two key takeaways from today’s popular diet
For one, the popular Paleo and Keto diets forbid the consumption of sugars and processed carbs, which should not be part of your diet anyway.
Second, these diets encourage you to eat all the wild-caught fish and seafood you want. And wild-caught fish and seafoods are just about the only foods left on the planet that haven’t been altered by human hands. Which makes them among the healthiest foods you can eat.
(Of course, some mainstream dietary “experts” still make some ridiculous recommendations to avoid eating shellfish because it’s “high” in cholesterol. But as I’ll explain in an upcoming Daily Dispatch, your body needs some cholesterol daily from whole foods like seafood, eggs, and meat.)
Now, let’s move on to the big myth about exercise in traditional cultures…
Uncovering the truth about ancient calorie burning
Trendy lifestyle gurus claim that ancient people stayed so fit because they were in constant motion, hunting and gathering food for their survival. And because of that, subscribers to the Paleo-based lifestyle also believe you must exercise constantly to stay fit and keep off excess weight.
But that’s just not true…
Anthropological studies show ancient peoples actually had quite a lot of leisure time after their food sources were obtained. They often engaged in arts, crafts, and social activities. And it was only when these civilizations evolved and settled down in one place to grow crops that their daily labor increased.
Now — let’s take the Hadza tribe again as an example. They still build simple mud huts and hunt with tools made by hand. You’d probably imagine they stay active 24/7, burning massive amounts of calories in a daily struggle for survival.
But that’s not at all the case…
In fact, the typical Hadza burns no more calories than a typical, sedentary, modern American!
Furthermore, modern metabolic studies of different populations show that the average number of calories burned each day stays fairly consistent, regardless of your activity levels! That’s because when you exercise, your body simply reduces the number of calories it burns performing other important functions — such as hormone production and respiration.
This concept also explains why excessive exercise (what I call “excess-ercise”) can seriously harm your body. It restricts resources that should be sent to your joints, kidneys, gastro-intestinal tract, urinary tract, and muscles — including your heart. It also leads to dangerous weight loss. And in women, it causes menstrual abnormalities and infertility.
The benefits of light-to-moderate exercise
Of course, you may be wondering, if you don’t burn extra calories when you exercise, how does weight loss occur?
And there’s one simple answer: Light-to-moderate exercise helps reduce inflammation, which science links to obesity — as well as to most other chronic medical conditions associated with aging.
That’s why you should aim to get just 2.5 hours of light-to-moderate exercise every week (not every day) to help reduce inflammation. It also supports the health of your cardiovascular system, brain, and muscles.
And, as I mentioned earlier, you should also strive to cut out sugars and processed carbs to maintain a healthy weight — but you need not worry about conforming to overly restrictive diets that eliminate fruits and dairy. These doctors and non-medical experts with their “paleolithic prescriptions,” as usual, are only seeing a small part of the picture.
I’m all for “tradition,” but we must always look accurately at the full range of human experiences when it comes to diet, exercise, metabolism, health, and disease.
Of course, as I explained on Tuesday, there are many more natural approaches for controlling inflammation. And you can learn about the remarkably fast and easy ways to reverse the #1 cause of disease and aging in my brand-new online learning protocol, Dr. Micozzi’s Protocol for Eliminating Deadly Inflammation.
And as always, I’ll continue to dispel all the popular myths in my Daily Dispatch and Insiders’ Cures newsletter. If you’re not yet a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, now’s the perfect time to get started.
“The Myth of Exercise, Metabolism and Weight Loss.” AARP, 12/2018-1/2019. (aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2018/metabolism-myths-weight-loss.html)