Biblical Paleo

Can a Bible Believer and a Paleo Diet Coexist?

Wasn’t Mankind Vegetarian before Noah?

Wasn’t Mankind Vegetarian before Noah?

This is another of the biblical myths that is based on a superficial reading of the text and not understanding the context.  Let’s look at a few things to help point our way:

3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground,

4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,

5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. (Gen 4:3-5 ESV)

So with the story of Cain and Abel we see two things—Cain’s offering was not accepted and Abel’s was.  Most theologians agree that Cain’s offering was not accepted because of his sinful heart (v7) not because it was produce.  Abel’s was accepted because it followed Biblical principles of offering your best.

It should be noted that Abel had flocks—so, unless he was raising them as pets, it seems he had animals raised animals for food.

So where does the vegetarian myth come from?  It is from verse 3 of chapter 9 where God says to Noah “3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (Gen 9:3 ESV)”

The argument is that God is now allowing man to eat animals as food.  But what about Abel?  What about the design of the human digestion system. Something else is happening here.

In chapter 7 verse 8 we are told “8 Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, (Gen 7:8 ESV)”

The word clean is a Hebrew word you are probably familiar with—Kosher.

Wait a minute, how did Noah know the difference between Kosher and non-Kosher animals?  The Law supposedly wasn’t given yet.  OK, here I do have to mention that I am a Messianic Jew, a Jewish believer in Jesus who also maintains Jewish identity.  In Jewish thinking, based on this and several other passages, it is accepted that Sinai was a codification of Laws that God had given beforehand.   Can and Abel offered sacrifices to God, Noah knew Kosher (clean) and unclean and he offered sacrifices.  There are more examples that I could give.

The issue then is context.  Unclean animals are not considered food to Jews.  Only Kosher animals would be food, other types of animals are not food. So when God says to Noah that every moving thing will be food for you—food is only Kosher animals anyways, so why does God need to give Noah permission to eat Kosher foods?  Because Noah brings more than two of each kind of animal on the ark, in verse 2 of chapter 7 we are told that Noah brings seven pairs of clean animals.  Why does he bring more clean animals?  Because the first thing he does is to offer sacrifices to God after leaving the ark..

In the Law there is a concept called Korban.  Jesus mentions this in the Gospels.  Korban means that you set aside something that you own as a future offering to God.  When Noah brings the clean animals unto the ark, they are Korban, set aside for sacrifices of thanksgiving.  Noah is not allowed to eat them without God’s permission.

LDL and HDL

LDL and HDL

Most people will know two things after a checkup from their doctor.  What is their total cholesterol number is and how much is the good cholesterol (HDL) and how much is the BAD CHOLESTEROL (LDL).  This is all hogwash.

First a brief history:

In the 1950s the battle against infectious disease was basically won in the United States.  The number one killer was no longer diseases like influenza but had shifted to cardiovascular disease.  Of course nothing helps a cause better than a celebrity.  In the 50s there was no bigger celebrity than President Eisenhower who had a heart attack in 1955.

The prevailing thought was that cholesterol was a good marker for heart disease.  The problem is that early on, they could only measure total cholesterol in the blood.  The problem is that cholesterol by itself is not found in the blood.  Cholesterol is a waxy substance that would not flow in blood easily.  To help get cholesterol to where it is needed, it is encapsulated in a lipoprotein.  They eventually could measure two basic types of lipoproteins, high density and low density (HDL – High Density Lipoprotein and LDL – Low Density Lipoprotein).  The LDL is produced by your liver and is sent out to the body and the HDL is being returned to the liver to be recycled.  Thus LDL was considered bad and HDL was considered good!  It is never that easy of course.

There are more than just two types of lipoproteins and for LDL, the various types can be classified as type A (light and fluffy) and type B (small and dense).  It is the small and dense LDL that potentially causes a problem.  If the only number you know is your total LDL, it can’t give you a clue about your potential for cardiovascular disease.   Ask your doctor to include the test to determine the type of LDL you have (type A or type B).

QUIZ

Can you guess what type of food increases HDL and type A LDL (The good fluffy kind)?

Can you guess what kind of food decreases HDL and increase the type B (small and dense) LDL?

I’ll answer these shortly.

Resources:

The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease-and the Statin-free plan that will by Johny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra

Ignore the Akward: How the Cholesterol Myths are Kept Alive by Uffe Ravinskov

Good and Bad Cholesterol?

Good and Bad Cholesterol?

A common thing I hear often when talking to people about their health is how low should my cholesterol be?  How much good and/or bad cholesterol can I have?

First, what is cholesterol?  It is a waxy substance that is made by naturally by your body.  In fact, it is so vital to your health that your body can make it, despite your best efforts to not eat any in your diet.  Cholesterol is used by your body to make many hormones, including the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.  It is a major component in cell membranes and your brain is made up of lots of the stuff!  Want to read a really scary story?  Try Lipitor Thief of Memory by Duane Graveline.  Dr. Graveline was an astronaut and medical research scientist who thought he had high cholesterol.  He didn’t know about the adverse affects of lowering your cholesterol until he was given a statin drug.

What does this have to do with a Biblical Paleo diet?

One of the false claims about a Paleo diet is the amount of animal products we recommend people eat will supply them with too many “artery clogging saturated fats”.  That phrase is now embedded in the vernacular.  Yet, there is not one clinical study that shows the relationship between eating saturated fat and heart disease—in fact, most (if not all) show a positive relationship between eating saturated fat and heart health!  No, I am not kidding, read that last sentence again.

If you doctor thinks cholesterol has anything to do with heart disease, ask him to provide you with one, only one, clinical research study that proves a causative relationship between cholesterol and heart disease.  When they can’t, ask them why they want to lower your cholesterol?

Resources:

Lipitor Thief of Memory by Duane Graveline

The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease-and the Statin-free plan that will by Johny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra

Ignore the Akward: How the Cholesterol Myths are Kept Alive by Uffe Ravinskov

Weren’t Adam and Eve Vegetarians?

Weren’t Adam and Eve Vegetarians?

This is one of the classic myths based on a improper or false argument.  In debate, this is called an argumentum ad ignoramtiam or “appeal to ignorance”– Ignorance meaning lack of evidence to the contrary.  Since the Bible doesn’t state categorically that Adam and Eve ate meat, they must have been vegetarians.  I don’t think so.  Let’s examine the evidence.

The Garden of Eden is not Earthly

The first problem is the assumption that the Garden is a place on earth.  In Jewish tradition, the Hebrew name “Gan Edan” is also a euphemism for Heaven. The physical description has some familiar names, but the geography presented does not match any location on earth.  The four earthly rivers with the same name do not come from a single head-water.  Plus, I haven’t noticed any place on my maps where man cannot enter because cherubim are guarding the entrance.

In the Garden itself we are told that God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, including the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Does this mean the only food was fruit? The Bible doesn’t say—the theologically important thing is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God placed animals in the garden, every kind of beast of the field and bird of the heavens.  What about fish?  Were fish an afterthought to God?  No, remember this was a Garden.  Garden’s are representations of the world, not the world itself.

Speaking of animals, we are told that Adam names all the livestock, the birds and beasts of the field.  The Hebrew word for livestock is commonly used only for domesticated animals.  Hebrew is a language of shepherds and nomads.  Livestock typically mean cows, sheep and goats.  Hypothetically, why would you separate livestock if you didn’t mean to have them for a special purpose?

Summary

So,  does the Garden have anything to do with the earth?  My argument goes back to how we are designed to eat meat.  Can I say that the Bible speaks of vegetarian or meat eating in the Garden—no, but we do not live in the Garden, we live on the earth and our GI tract is clearly designed to digest meat.

What is a Paleo Diet?

What is a Paleo Diet?

The term Paleo diet and the related Primal diet carry many different meanings.  For simplicity, I will use the following definition:

The Paleo diet is based on the consumption of whole foods based on the concept that modern humans have evolved over millions of years to eat a diet that consists of primarily meat, seafood, vegetables and tubers.  Grains are normally avoided as are processed foods of any kinds.  Fruits are included, but often limited as are dairy of any kind.

The Primal diet is closely linked, but includes limited grains (white rice and oatmeal) and often allows for diary products.

The fact that these diets are inherently healthy is without questions (we will cover this in more detail in subsequent posts), but how can this worldview mesh with a Bible believer?

To be inclusive, I will now attempt to alienate almost everyone with my first post.

In looking at the basis for the Paleo diet, we see a thematic reliance on evolution.  For many, this is the central theme of science—“Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Evolutionary Biologist, 1900 – 1975.  Can this worldview mesh with a belief in God?

My answer is yes, if we understand that evolution often carries two meanings in scientific literature.  The first, which bible believers will have no problem accepting, is the adaptation within a species—i.e. a dog cross breeding with another dog over time creating a new species of dog.  The second meaning, the ability of species to become new kinds of animals—i.e. a dog becoming something other than a dog is questionable, it has never been observed.  The fossil record, which is used as evidence, is based on conjecture not scientific fact.  In this view, lower life forms evolving into higher life forms and ultimately the concept of abiogenesis (life begetting from non-life), is a matter of faith.

On the other hand, the belief in design or creation is based on a belief and is also based on faith.  God cannot be proved scientifically.  Is everyone alienated yet?

Ultimately, both the Evolutionist and the Bible Believer have the same facts to deal with.  This is where I believe we can easily coexist.  The facts, despite your worldview, are the same.  So what are the facts we can deal with?

Physiology 101 – Digestion.

Essentially there are only two types of digestive systems in most mammals, an herbivorous or carnivorous path.  Let’s explore the two paths.

Herbivores

Herbivores typically have two types of digestive systems.  The fist is a front fermenter,  these are typified by cows, sheep and goats.  These animals have large stomachs which are often segmented into multiple chambers.  The vegetable matter consumed is chewed and chewed again to breakdown the cellulose material.  The cow cannot actually digest grass, but relies on bacteria in the stomach and colon to breakdown the cellulose.  A by-product of the bacterial breakdown of vegetable material is the creation of short and medium chain fatty acids (Fat), which are used by the cow as its primary fuel.

The rear fermenters like horses and elephants have a large stomach, but most of the bacterial action takes place in the large colons of these animals.  Once again, they cannot  actually digest the grass, but rely on bacteria to digest it, producing short and medium chain fatty acids, which are used as the primary source of bodily fuel.

What about great apes?  The gorilla is a pure vegetarian who has an enormous stomach which is needed to hold the vast quantities of material it constantly feeds on most of the day.  Once again, the gorilla has a large stomach and enormous colon to hold vegetable material—not for its own digestion—but for the breakdown by bacteria which produce short and medium chain fatty acids.  Even chimpanzees, who have been recorded to hunt and eat meat in the wild, mostly rely on bacterial breakdown of vegetable matter into short and medium chain fatty acids for fuel.

Carnivores

A classic carnivore is the wolf, lion or tiger.  The stomach, as a percentage of the total gastrointestinal tract (GI) is small.  The food that is eaten remains in the stomach only a short time. The acid produced in the stomach is used to activate enzymes to breakdown protein and fats.  Most of the digestion takes place in the intestines, which tend to be very long.  The intestines are ideally suited to the absorption of fats and proteins.  The colon in the carnivore is short (compared to the intestines) and primarily function to reabsorb liquid.  While most carnivores have bacterial colonies in their colons, there is little time for much fermentation to take place.

Humans

The human stomach is relatively small compared to the rest of the GI tract.  It produces acids primarily to disinfect the food and to activate enzymes to breakdown proteins and fats.  The majority of digestion takes place in the very long intestinal tract.  The average person’s intestines, if opened up and laid flat, would cover most of a standard tennis court.  The colon is relatively small, with a primary function of fluid retrieval.  A healthy colon will have a large bacterial colony that can ferment vegetable matter into short and medium chain fatty acids—though the time most fibrous matter stays in the colon is too short for the person to rely on this as a fuel source.

It is obvious that the human digestive tract shares more in common with the carnivore than the herbivore.  This means that the human diet should consist of primarily fats and proteins (from animal sources), vegetables (for additional nutrition) and some fiber for the limited fermentation in the colon.

Evolution or Design?

In terms of a Paleo diet, it doesn’t matter if you believe in evolution or design/creation.  The human body’s digestive tract is designed to eat the diet prescribed by the many authors of Paleo type diets.  This is how I can reconcile both worldviews in my advocacy of the Paleo diet.

Resources

For more information, you can ask me a question at any time.  Of course, you can also read some of the books and scientific journals I have studied.  For this post, I would recommend:

The Perfect Health Diet, Paul Jaminet, Shou-Ching Jaminet and Mark Sisson, 2012

The Primal Blueprint, Mark Sisson, 2013

The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet, Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain, 2010

The Paleo Diet Revised: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat, Loren Corain, 2010

Practical Paleo, Diane Sanfilippo, Bill Staley and Robb Wolf, 2012