The Problem With the Paleo Diet Argument

The Problem With the Paleo Diet Argument

82 thoughts on “The Problem With the Paleo Diet Argument

  1. The problem with the ape argument is that we have a very different digestive system than other great apes (very short colon, almost no cecum) and of course that massive brain to sustain. Of course it is not an argument for eating a mostly meat based diet, but you can't deny that there was a clear adaptation to it in the last 2 millions years. The early diet was apparently based for a long time on tiger nuts which are almost half and half carbs and fats if I remember correctly (with resistant starch as a bonus).

    Most HG populations or early tubers agriculturist (the "ancestral" diets) don't show any sign of heart disease or metabolism impairement whatever their macronutrient uptakes. If you don't eat modern refined foods and eat plenty of vegetable (with high soluble fiber), you won't have any problems dealing with fat and that is why a paleo diet (rather than "the" paleo diet as it is more a framework than anything else) is working so well for so many conditions. On the other hand, if you're basing your diet on grains, you will probably need to reduce your animal intake a lot to make it work. Mcdougall seem to often mention that his patients often get fat if they are eating nuts and olive oil, which is a hint to me that something is wrong, but seems to further convince him that fat is the devil.

  2. Very interesting and a new view for me on the paleo diet.
    I still don't know if its really true that most africans eat nerly no meat because from the stuff I've heard they like and love to eat meat and many tribes rely alot on the milk (sometimes mixed with cow blood) given from their cows. Recently a girl traveling throug Tibet told me that Butter and Milk is nearly in every food in Tibet and they are very healthy and thin over there so what made me think that this is very unhealthy? I just know that the proof I've read in the China Study was enough for me and seems pretty untouchable.
    Anyway, I still thrive on a vegan diet but would love to hear different opinions on this.

  3. I wonder if you included all the factors that were introduced in the diet of the last century like sugar and processed/packaged "food". To say "we eat more meat/fat = we have all these health problems, while ignoring other changes like we also don't exercise, or eat processed/sugary food, or sleep well, or under a lot of stress…. doesn't seem like you are very objective in your video. Your assumptions are not supported by evidence – I thought the fat myth of causing cardie-vascular problems was debunked long time ago. For instance, take a look at a pubmed publication "Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients" – a diet based on 60-70% calories coming from animal fat. Based on your conclusions, 100% of the participants would die from a coronary disease on ketogenic diet… 🙂

  4. Also Dean Ornish came to his conclusions disregarding other facts that would completely change his results. Cutting sugars and processed food with chemical additives out of any diet will reduce coronary problems – meat or no meat, fat or no fat. I would like for him to duplicate his diet based on just cutting animal produce off while leaving sugar and processed food still in the diet, but of course that would mean he has to use an actual scientific method.

  5. Trouble is we left africa some 120.000 – 40.000 years ago when the climate was 4 degree C colder and went north. So apparently a high calorie (meat) diet and a short lifespan is better for the human species than a low calorie (fruit) diet and a long lifespan? Or something else?  Very nice video, thanks!

  6. The truth is humans are very adaptive to their environment. This is why the Inuit have survived for thousands of years on a mostly meat based diet in the Artic tundra. I would say it would be borderline racist to say they have a diet poorer than anyone elses. If their diet was so poor, they wouldn't have survived.
    Promote veganism all you want in the first world, but don't go around saying a people's native diet, which is symbiotic with their culture, is any better or worse than any others.

  7. Or, if you believe in Creation instead of evolution, you see in Genesis 1:29 that God, our Creator, recommended a whole-foods, plant-based diet!

  8. What foods were our bodies designed to eat? 

    Watch below or click the link to watch on

  9. so when the apes eat 95% plants, that means 5% meat right biased vegan scientist?
    I'm so disappointed with this channel now, thought it was supposed to be scientific and objective. High child mortality lowers average lifespan no? Tackle the amount of meat in a diet scientifically, surely there must be some advantage to eating meat when we have been doing it for mill. of years and the great apes also do it. I'm not disregarding the benefit of a whole food plant based diet (like fx. Dr. Esseltyn and Dr. Campbell and others have shown) but other doctors have shown the benefit of a paleo style diet (fx. Dr. Rosedale). The A to Z study showed that the ones on the Atkins diet were the healthiest (presented by a 30 year vegetarian scientist btw.). Why this bias, I thought You were objective? So dissapointed…   

  10. What about nomadic Mongolians who eat an near carnivorous diet, live into old age and have staggeringly low rates of heart disease?

  11. i understand what you're saying but i have only one question: is it OK i still stuff sticks into holes in the ground to get my recommended daily intake of ants? damn there's gotta be an app out there that makes this easier…

  12. Some people just keep saying that we aren't supposed to eat a plant-based diet because we can't digest cellulose. Ugh, this is so annoying since PLANT-based doesn't imply that we only eat grass like cows and other herbivores. Fruits are also plants, and since we need a lot of calories a day, we should eat plant-based with mostly fruit, and that is what we mean when we say plant-based, we don't mean that we want to eat grass all day. Okay? Clear? Okay, let's move on then… . 

  13. What bothers me is that our bodies can digest and run on carbs … and protein and fats!  We need protien to build muscles, and our bodies use carbohydrates and fatty acids for fuel.  So I'm becoming a believer in that boring old balanced diet that no one is going to make YouTube videos over or sell books on.  But that and regular exercise may be what we need,

  14. Just one problem: cholesterol and saturated fat wasn't the problem 100 years ago. there's definetely something else going on. no wonder this idea of artery-clogging saturated fat is not supported by modern science anymore.

  15. how about Masai in Africa?? They eat 60% fat 30% red meat and perfectly healthy. No CVD what so ever. Maybe all the refined carbs creating problems. Can any vegan explain this?

  16. Gracias!!! thank you estas increiblemente, en la razon, cero carbohidratos 100% vegano con carnes blancas y rojas 20%. que tal?

  17. Studies done on vegitarians and vegans showed no lower risk of heart desease. this is a fact that the good doctor himself admitted in 2002. Soooooo….

  18. Studies done on vegitarians and vegans showed no lower risk of heart desease. this is a fact that the good doctor himself admitted in 2002. Soooooo….

  19. A person in my husband's family became vegan after we discussed about the diet. she was vegan for year or so but after that she decided to change her diet again. Two years later of not being vegan she had a heart problem and couldn't breath. she's ok now. but she had to be hospilized and the doctor told her to eat more plant base foods and lower the salt intake.

    i guess some people will only listen when things get pretty bad. I'm sure if she had stayed with the vegan diet this rush to the hospital wouldn't have happened.

  20. This makes too much sense that the only response the paleo crew will have is ridicule. That's their default get out of jail card.

  21. just curious. are there any studies done on the inuits who i think mainly eat a meat based diet because of the extreme cold environment they live in.

  22. The National Geographic study of populations w/ the highest numbers of centenarians is a good indicator.

    However, with modern diseases of the pancreas, and other genetic variants, it is hard to ascertain what is the best diet, exactly. I think we all have to experiment with ourselves somewhat to find out for our own unique body.

  23. If Cholesterol is bad for us, how come young people don't get heart diseases? is 25 years of eating the wrong food not enough?! do I really need 60 to have it kick in?

  24. it the paleo diet were to die out I wonder whkch "new" fad will take its place as an alternative to a plant based diet

  25. This is a very brilliant video article and expresses a broad overview and perspective that is very rare to find elsewhere.  It's very inspiring, thanks Dr. Greger!!!

  26. Well, what about Vitamin B12 then? If we are not supposed to eat meat, why is it an essential nutrient for us?

    Another point: Evolution researchers say we evolved from other ape species because we startet to eat meat and probably even more importantly, started to cook it. That process made it better digestable and we could get more nutrients/calories in and therefore did not longer need a huge digestion system, like a cow for instance. Instead we developed a high powered brain and seperated from apes. Therefore I´m not convinced eating like other ape species is right for us. But that decision should be made by everybody on their own.

  27. There is another compounding element to the issue of the early human diet. It's a little thing called fire. Most everyone today will agree that eating raw meat is a bad idea. It is likely the case that eating raw meat always has been a bad idea. Before human discovered how to make and or use fire for cooking, eating raw meat would have been the only option. Considering our digestive system is designed to process plant matter, eating raw meat seems like an even less likely option for early hominids. I have often suggested that given our lack of fangs and claws, the only non-vegetable protein sources we had came from bugs and slugs or other slow moving critters we could just pick up.

  28. Actually, many paleontologist snow agree that Paleolithic folk were probably mostly he herbivores. Originally thought to be meat eaters, because plant matter doesn't preserve as well as bone, new techniques are saying otherwise. Seeds found in fire pits, content of bone matter, and even preserved tooth plague paints a picture much closer to a primary plant based diet. This makes sense given how dangerous it was to hunt. While a hunt would give a lot of nutrients, it would also expend a lot of energy and time and potentially be hazardous. So it was probably celebrated, but not frequent. Here's one interesting article:

  29. I'm starting to think protein is bad for us. The gorilla eats leaves and stems. The rice diet of just fruit, rice and sugar shows no deficiencies. Beans lentils and chick peas might not be so good to eat. Our body were designed around food before cooked came along.

  30. Followed Dr. Geiger's diet for 6 months due to obesity and hypertension. Strictly plants, no processed foods, no sugars, no animal products. Six months later- same weight but blood pressure even higher. I got scared. Went on a LCHF diet, as recommended by Dr. Jason Fung, on You Tube and in books. Four weeks later- lost 12 pounds and blood pressure normal. I also have added intermittent fasting. I feel amazing, and I know from listening to my body that I am on the right track. Low-carb, high-fat, with intermittent fasting has allowed me to take control of my weight, health, and destiny. Dr. Geiger's diet would have landed me in the hospital or morgue if I'd stuck to it. It's crazy!

  31. Does anybody ever look at the industrial chemicals, vaccines, hormones, etc? Instead of constantly focusing on diet alone? I bet a lot of those rural populations are in better health just from the simple fact that they aren't exposed to all this toxic junk like the rest of us are

  32. I have fatty liver and gallbladder polyps (Cholesterolosis) what diet is good for my condition? In the past I was diagnosed with Gilberts syndrome which just means the liver or gallbladder is a bit sluggish so my ears perked up when Dr Greger said that humans may have developed a very good system of re-cycling cholesterol and holding onto whatever cholesterol we ingest, I always though that the more cholesterol you eat the less the body makes in order to keep balance, so by eating less then wouldn't the body up cholesterol production?
    The Gallbladder needs fats I read, and the purpose of the gallbladder is to store and then sqeeze out bile to emulsify fats, if one stops fat then I worry about bile stasis.

  33. the human digestive system was designed to eat fruit. fresh fruit right off the tree is very high in vitamin C. it has been shown that Vitamin C protects against atherosclerosis and can even reverse it. dogs don't get atherosclerosis because they make their own vitamin C. dogs make more vitamin C than humans can eat from a mainly fruit based diet milligrams per kg.

  34. I completely disagree with the opportunistic logic that the diet of the 20 million years before the last 2 million years is somehow more important than the last 2 million. If our diet was different in the last 2 million years from what it was before, then we should ignore what came before, as 2 million is plenty of time to adapt to the new reality. Besides, when we look at primitive tribes in South America, Africa or Oceania, we find that they ALL eat meat and other animal products.

  35. what vegetables did they have in the stoneage!! hunting, fishing and berries and some green leafs and roots I guess was the diet…what ever they came across..depending on the seasons….and no chemicals sugar and other shit…

  36. People should always pre-qualify the "average life expectancy" to tell people to take into consideration that included NUMEROuS children dying after or during childbirth as there were no incubation units back then. However children that lived past age five mostly lived to a ripe old age of 80 – 100+ and died healthy in their sleep. UNLIKE they do today. I have ancestors from the 1600s that lived well into their 90s and early 100s.

  37. I'm sure our ancient ancestors didn't all live in sunny California. How did these 'plant eaters' survive during the winter??

  38. Why appeal to origins? First, origins do not dictate the current state of affairs. Second, there is no way to test the origins "theory". Finally, current studies and test have shown strong evidence to support a plant based diet. Stay away from theory and stick w/ the fact!!! Btw if you must appeal to origins just take a look at the book of Genesis, 6,000 years ago was a full plant based diet!

  39. We are omnivores, that is why we have incisors, that is why we have a complex digestive system, which btw has a hard time digesting cellose from plants, plus plants have their own anti-nutrients designed to protect the plants and seeds. This issue is complex, and hopefully people will not read into this and become vegans, who have their own set of health problems,

  40. Forget what our ancestors ate. There is only one question you need to ask. If cholesterol and fat causes heart disease why considering that both these items are floating around our entire circulatory system don't our veins block up, while our arteries do? After all, it's the same fat and cholesterol floating around in both. Second, since the best on average a low fat vegan can do is reduce cholesterol from an average of 200 to 150 (which we are told will make us heart attack proof) which is a 25% reduction did the other 75% of cholesterol still floating around the circulatory system suddenly become benign? And not just benign, but that 75% left over is scrubbing and reversing heart disease. The vegan doctors need to come up with a better theory. This one simply doesn't hold water. And is a low fat vegan diet the only diet that has been shown to reverse heart disease? Not anymore. Finally, researchers at a major university in Israel have reversed heart disease with three different diets, none of them vegan and none actually low fat (none under 10%). Thanks to them we now know the mechanism for heart disease reversal. It's a drop in systolic blood pressure. It turns out there is a direct correlation between a drop in systolic blood pressure and reversal. The greater the reduction in systolic blood pressure, the greater the reversal of heart disease. How did they achieve the reduction in blood pressure? Weight loss. And it turns out that Dr. Essy's study subjects dropped an average of twenty two pounds and the Ornish folks the same. So, it wasn't the low fat, and it wasn't the vegan diet. It turned out to be the same way science has discovered to extend life in so many species. It's all about calorie reduction no matter how you achieve it. Surprise? No!!!!

  41. Why do people watch (or not watch) videos and comment when they clearly don't agree with the subject matter? Is this the forum where they expect to have an in depth discussion and then reach a consensus with everyone?
    If you don't "believe" scientific facts about nutrition, then just move on; you're not going to change anyone's mind and there's no point in feeling as threatened as you obviously do.

  42. Avishek Saha,
    Sir, you are truly an idiot. You have very limited knowledge about how evolution works. After all, to individuals like you, evolution is just a theory.

  43. All I will say is that if we we’re suppose to eat meat like ALL other meat eaters, we would be able to eat it raw like they do. We CANNOT!!. Oh sure, a little sushi here and there or some steak tar tar. But I mean taking an animal and ripping the flesh off it’s bones and eating it raw. Meat eating animals do that. We DON’T do that and never have. We have to cook it. Yet, we can eat just about any fruit or vegetable without cooking it. Some may be a little hard like potato’s but we could eat it raw with no problem.

  44. A major flaw with this argument is the notion that cholesterol is the problem and cause of atherosclerosis. The arteries become INFLAMED and the body sends cholesterol to the inflammation as a "patch" and this is what causes the clogging. This would also occur even if no cholesterol was eaten, because the body produces it. The cause is the inflammation NOT the cholesterol. What causes the inflammation? Sugar, seed oils and grains.

  45. I turned Vegan for environmental reasons and quickly became worried about how my health would be. Where will I get my Iron my Protein etc? It's almost Karma that this new Vegan diet has significantly improved my health my eczema and asthma symptoms have dropped radically, I gained more energy and to just to use it up I began to exercise more. I'm now in the best shape and health of my life. And now seeing the truth of factory farming and slaughterhouses it was Karma that eating animals made me so unhealthy. The thing that makes me want to scream is that no one I tell about the benefits of a Vegan diet wants to hear me out not environmentally, ethically or healthfully… Steak, Bacon and Fried Chicken are more important somehow.

  46. Before the advent of refrigeration and industrial farming, what did people in cold climates eat from Nov.-May? It wasn't lettuce, broccoli, etc. Anyone?

  47. While I can absolutely agree with this my question would be about b12, Iron etc? I also read a study that suggested people in Europe have adapted more to a Meat eating diet and we have a harder time acquiring essential fats etc from plant based sources, at least it seems reasonable to me we might see some variation if there have been historic trends?

  48. 2:13 that's likely because they like almost all mammals produce a constant level of about 15,000% RDA Vitamin C internally, so the blood vessels stay in great shape and none of the cholesterol oxidizes

  49. Very informative channel; but the fact remains that 99-100% of late paleolithic peoples ate a non-vegan diet. There aren't any American Indian tribes for example who ate a vegan diet. For most adherents of the diet, they are referring to pre-agricultural, not necessarily tens to hundreds of thousands of years ago. Not necessarily making a value judgment, just pointing this out.

  50. 0:56
    25.000.000 years ago diet was all fine
    2.600.000 years ago meat consumption started (apparently bad idea according to science – adaptation hasnt happened properly yet)
    250.000 years ago cooking started (apparently fine according to (current) science – adaptation 100% "successful")
    stahhp cookin ya food ya fooools – put 1 and 1 together
    the denial is real u delusional vegan tards
    "i already gave up tasty animal products…but at least i got my comforting cooked starches and can tell ppl how superior i am cuz i know all the science"
    paleo diet is better than veganism (regardless of what science says…listen to ur body ffs) but its still shit compared to raw veganism
    wake up

  51. Wanna know why carnivors don't develop heart and vein clogging diseases? Last time I checked, they didn't drink alcohol, didn't smoke a package of cigarettes a day and there is a chance that they actually move their ass from time to time. And unless they aren't held in an abusive way, they don't become morbidly fat.

    Seriously, painting meat as the devil may be in sync with our Zeitgeist. But if good quality meat is embedded in a sensible diet and excercise is part of the lifestyle as well, then it isn't harmful at all and remains one of the best sources for protein and several micronutrients.

    Sure, eating too much meat isn't good. But who are the guys, who do this? Often these "meatheads" live very unhealthy lifestyles, far exceeding their meat intake. They eat hardly any vegetables, instead loads of highly processed food (which includes shit quality meat as well), lots of low quality carbs, tons of snacks, sweets and other empty calories (like loaded-to-the-gills-with-sugar baverages). They are more likely to be smokers and to not have their alcohol consumption quite in check. Add a lack of excercise, being overweight (possibly obese), inadequate stress management, low self-esteem and consequentially high levels of cortisol to that and you get a good picture of just who makes up the lionshare of clogged hearts and veins.

    There is a tad more at work here than these folks eating meat.

  52. How do we know what humans ate millions of years ago? Seems like a stretch to say whether humans were vegetarians or paleo. How about omnivores?

  53. All of this is nonsense, we are not gorillas or cows. Meat is also not the direct or biggest culprit for heart disease, TMAO (Trimethylamine N-oxide) is responsible and only if the individual has the right bacteria that produces this organic compound. TMAO is what encourages the buildup of plaque and fats in the arteries. Excessive amounts of meat (especially processed) and supplements (which a lot of vegans glorify) produce TMAO when digested by this specific bacteria. Even then, there are fruits and vegetables that have a much, much higher level of TMAO than red meat. So no, red meat does not directly cause heart disease and isn't even the worst culprit. Also, eat a balanced diet of plants and animals.

  54. All of this is nonsense, we are not gorillas or cows. Meat is also not the direct or biggest culprit for heart disease, TMAO (Trimethylamine N-oxide) is responsible and only if the individual has the right bacteria that produces this organic compound. TMAO is what encourages the buildup of plaque and fats in the arteries. Excessive amounts of meat (especially processed) and supplements (which a lot of vegans glorify) produce TMAO when digested by this specific bacteria. Even then, there are fruits and vegetables that have a much, much higher level of TMAO than red meat. So no, red meat does not directly cause heart disease and isn't even the worst culprit. Also, eat a balanced diet of plants and animals, and be sure to buy them locally if possible. Organic is the way to go.

  55. If in the paleo stage they didnt evolve ways of dealing with high cholesterol levels bc natural selection is relevant only to traits that effect mating, then how did the body of humans beforehand develop a way of reusing cholesterol bc the levels were too low if low cholesterol doesn't effect mating abilities either?

  56. …did the ancestors 25 million years ago just need to survive to reproduction or did they live to old age due to unclogged arteries

  57. People didn’t die on average at age 25 in the Stone Age. Infant mortality skews the average way down. If you made it to 25 you would probably make it to a good age. People don’t just drop dead at 25, in their prime.

  58. Dr Greger has it wrong on the adaptations to meat eating. We have little to no genetic adaptations to meat eating precisely because our Paleolithic ancestors were mostly eating shoots, tubers, roots, nuts, and berries; not because they were living short lives. Meat made a small contribution to the diets of Homo Erectus in Africa. Indeed there is no evidence for the regular use of fire or hunting until very late, perhaps around 1 mya. Occasional scavenging is the only conclusion (and even then, human cut marks are AFTER vulture and hyena bite marks, indicating all the good stuff was eaten away). Even then, they continued to eat mostly plant foods, just as the Khoisan and Hadza do today. When they did catch an animal, it was likely very lean and nothing like today's farm animals. Parasite load would have also been high (which eat up LDL cholestrol) and body fat low. Thus, they would have maintained low cholestrol and excellent health DESPITE the LITTLE animal foods eaten.

    The notion that archaic humans like Neanderthals in Europe were carnivores has little evidence. Not only is this impossible for the human gut (it takes way too many calories to even digest meat!), but there is evidence of Neanderthals relying on berries, tubers, beechnuts, acorns, etc. which they cached. In the Middle East, Neanderthals were basically making porridge out of the various grains they found and boiling it with water in an animal skin bag.

    Therefore, all-meat diets are unique to people living north of the Arctic circle. And we know how bad that turned out for the Inuit. Poor bone density, kidney problems, atherosclerosis– the list goes on. If we accept that they entered this area ~30 kya, then this makes up 0.0015% of the Paleolithic.

  59. Remember, we come from fishes, still, we cannot breath underwater. I don't know if going back 25 million years makes sense: evolution and life try every path and keep what's surviving, it's better not to go too far back.

    Even the dog comparison, considering they have a life expectancy of 30 years max, do they even have time to develop clogged arteries? (might they all die of clogged arteries after all?)

    I would also consider the way we evolved eating meat: meat is not easy to catch, not to mention the need to eat it straight after the kill.

    It might began by having large quantities once in a while, something to think of.

    And there is the genesis if glucose, eating meat makes us produce glucose and secrete insulin to use glucose. Meat is very well established, and in an extremely effective way in our metabolism.

    The problem, as always, seems to be overdosing over long periods. Not banishing meat.

    Yes, having a good base plant, seed, nuts, grain diet, as Dr Greger says, is surely good: our ancestor never lost appetite for those easy to grab out of the plant foods, but:

    – beware of glucose: it is energy, but it is also toxic for many of your organs, see diabetes
    – don't let proteins leave you: we cannot store proteins, and those build all the machinery in our body
    – refrain from becoming a fat warehouse: all excess becomes fat, no matter if you ate carbs or fats, the excess is stored as fat, don't overdose, unfortunately it clogs arteries (triglycerides or cholesterol really clog arteries?)

    I am beginning to suspect Mr Greger had a fatal crush on a Vegan Charming Being young, be careful he or she might have been the offspring of a famous Coli Flower and Curcuma lobbyist.

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