Keto & Paleo diets
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may have noticed that my dietary philosophy is, well, "sorta Paleo." You probably already know that I'm not a huge fan of fad diets. In general, I think they do more harm than good, though I do acknowledge the benefits of following certain strict diets (i.e. vegan, grain-free, etc.) for a specified period of time for cleansing or elimination purposes. And of course, for those with certain health issues, completely eliminating certain foods may be advisable or necessary.

But I'm always interested to hear what others in the health community have to say about different diets, so I was curious when I saw a recent blog post by author, blogger, and natural health expert, Robyn Openshaw about "Why Ketosis (and Paleo) Diets Will Fail." I have been following Robyn for several years, and I respect her opinions and her work, so I thoroughly read her post, and it was interesting enough to me that I actually wrote a response, which I don't often do on other blogs.

Below are some of Robyn's assertions about the ketogenic and Paleo diets - as well as my response...

Here's my response, plus a couple of additional notes:

Thanks for the article Robyn - it was very interesting! As a natural health enthusiast and blogger, myself, I am always reading various things about diets and nutrition, so I was interested to hear what you had to say. I think we are pretty much on the same page for the most part, though I may disagree with a couple of your points.

I am not really a fan of any kind of extreme diet (I've written several blog posts about this topic) - I don't feel like they are natural for the human body, though they can be useful in short-term "cleanse" or dietary therapy sessions. Veganism, for example, I think is a great way to cleanse and detoxify for a few weeks, but I don't feel like it's healthy in the long term. Same thing perhaps for the newly popular "Keto" diet, which sounds really weird and not very healthy to me, but I know some people have experienced great results - at least in the short term.

I am much more comfortable with Paleo, though I don't agree with or understand the exclusion of legumes?? And dairy is also something that humans have consumed for thousands of years - although certainly NOT in the highly processed and adulterated forms that we now find ourselves confronted with in today's grocery stores. For most of human history, we have consumed raw milk and various forms of fermented milk - almost none of which we consume in the modern day American diet (with the exception of yogurt - but even that is full of sugar and artificial crap that we never consumed much of until the past century or so).

I am dismayed by the passionate adherence of so many people to so many of these extreme diets... So many (if not all) of our modern health problems could be fixed simply by eating a balanced diet of REAL, WHOLE foods! One that includes lots of healthy, nutritious vegetables and fruits, and smaller amounts of whole grains (for those who don't have problems with grain), unprocessed and organic dairy, grass-fed meats and eggs, and natural, minimally processed fats - including clean animal fats from organic pastured animals as well as fats from fruits like olives and coconuts.

The problem is that everyone has to make a buck off of human's natural tendency to want a "magic pill" or a "quick fix" for everything that ails us... Thus, we are faced with literally thousands of choices when it comes to eating - many of which come with an agenda attached that isn't necessarily in the best interest of our long-term health.

Along with the statement above, I should add the caveat that the more I read about health and nutrition, the more I am convinced that there is NOT a one-size-fits-all dietary standard. So many people have sensitivities to different types of foods, or simply do better on some foods, and worse on others - as evidenced strongly by the comments above!

I don't think anyone should be running around telling everyone else that they simply MUST eat Vegan or they will die a horrible death (yes, I have heard vegans say almost these exact words - even though most of the vegans I have known have seemed extremely unhealthy to me), or that they should try the Ketogenic diet since it's the best diet ever known to man, etc.  I think the definition of eating healthy can vary from person to person - though this means that we have to put a lot more work and thought into what we eat, in order to figure out what foods we do best on, and what to avoid. Essentially a "customized diet" for each person may be what we need, and I am interested to check out the book mentioned above in the comments, "The Personalized Diet."

However, as a caveat to my caveat... :-)  It is highly possible that many of our "food sensitivities" and allergies are actually caused by 1. eating junk for so many years, and 2. the processed nature of our diets, rather than the foods themselves.  It is possible that after eating a natural, whole-foods based diet for some time, some of these sensitivities would diminish, and we could then tolerate and enjoy foods that previously caused problems (for example, grains and dairy).

Lastly, as I know I've rambled on long enough, I wanted to thank you for your emphasis on "mainly plant-based." I have always objected to the use of the term "plant-based" to refer to veganism, as technically, a diet that is "based on" plants could include other foods as well. I like to say humans should consume a "plant-centered" diet. :-)   That is, centered around plants, but including other clean and well-managed sources of nutrients as mentioned above.

If you want to check out my VERY simple philosophy on healthy eating, I refer you to this article:

Thanks again for your thoughtful post!

Follow Up:

I would like to add a couple of notes, as I do want readers to know that I do practice what I preach (for the most part) when it comes to eating. While not exactly Paleo in the strict sense, I definitely lean more in that direction, with the addition of dairy (which I don't consume a lot of), legumes, and some grains - though I avoid grains more because eating them makes me feel unhealthy than for any particular philosophical reason - I can just tell they are not good for my body.

My husband has always been a huge meat-eater (I consider it an incredible improvement that he occasionally makes a vegetarian dinner once in a while now!) and we have moved almost exclusively to eating only grass-fed, locally raised meats in the past few years - you know, the kind where you actually get to know the farmer, see the animals in their home setting, etc. In my opinion, this is the only sustainable and ethically responsible way to consume meat.

BUT, I do recognize the ecological impact of eating meat, and I understand that it comes at a higher price than plant foods.
Therefore, I am not in the Paleo camp that says that animal foods should be a major part of your diet. I am still much more of the opinion that meat should be consumed sparingly, even from these more sustainable sources. Animals can comprise an important part of a holistic ecosystem, and when raised responsibly, can contribute valuable inputs to a closed-loop farming style. But the amount of meat we currently eat in the U.S. is more than sustainable farming methods can support - even for the most efficient operations. While I do believe that it would be possible to feed our population sustainably, we would have to drastically reduce our meat consumption as a country in order to do it. This is why you may often see me discuss or mention plant-based diets, or post vegetarian recipes.

As for the "Keto" diet, well, that just sounds crazy to me... My brother-in-law tried it for a while, but my sister said he found it somewhat boring after a while, and he ended up not feeling very good. Now he is on a Primal kick, which I think is much healthier. However, I have heard a number of people say they have seen great results on a ketogenic eating plan - including several in response to Robyn's article.

Actually, reading the comments on Robyn's article was especially interesting to me, as there were so many different takes and responses on both sides. It really brings home the point that what works for one person does NOT necessarily work for everyone! This is why I think everyone needs to really pay attention to what they eat and get in touch with how it makes them feel (some people call this "intuitive eating").

Take an interest in your own health (it really is very interesting!), and start to listen to your body and what learn foods agree with it and which foods don't. This is the only way (in my opinion) to find the right way to eat and avoid all the hype out there.

To your health!



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