I think the Paleo crowd are right about nutrition, but accidentally.
I’m a pragmatic person – if something works well, I’m not too fussed by the ideology behind it, and trying to justify things that work in terms of ideology tends to go badly. I’ve always thought the anthropological argument for paleo was a bit iffy, mainly because there was such a huge variation in the diet of prehistoric populations due to climatic diversity, but that the practical application of it was pretty solid.
If you strip away the dogma, the Paleo crowd are promoting
– Lots of fruit and veg
– Lowish carb intake
– Lean, preferably wild, animal products
– Locally sourced, ethically farmed and environmentally sound foodstuffs
– Elimination of processed food and refined sugars
– A careful look at foods which may be allergenic or inflammatory for that individual
Unsurprisingly, people who eat as per the above guidelines tend to feel pretty good. Food is a very emotional topic for most people, so there are lots of strong views, and an appetite for elimination diets of all kinds. But leaving out any ideological arguments, the above guidelines are pretty sound nutritional advice for just about anyone. Most diets which promote long term health have these factors in common, so it ultimately doesn’t matter what bandwagon you prefer to ride. Michael Pollan simplifies it even further – “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.
Simple food rules like this aren’t as exciting as taking a zealous stance, but they’re difficult to screw up and simple to follow.