Sunday, September 30

My Paleo Journey - Part 1, Paul Tubbs

Paul Tubbs
Paul J Tubbs, Head of Nursing, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK


This particular journey started more years ago than I care to remember – 1976 to be precise! Clearly I was a slow learner because I didn’t put it all together until 2009! That’s when I found Loren Cordain’s paper on the Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet (Cordain et al 2005), and the penny finally dropped! My first insight, was in a book by Surgeon Captain T L Cleave, The Saccharine Disease (Cleave 1974), in 1976, in which he explained the dangers of refined carbohydrates and trans fats, concluding that, with no other predisposing factors, increased levels of cancers and heart disease could only be laid at the door of transfats and refined sugars.

In 1982 I attended Bristol Polytechnic to do a course in Clinical Teaching which had quite a lot of physiology in it, and notably, one physiology lecturer who taught us about diabetes and explained that our physiology was designed for times of feast and famine. Our ancestors would kill themselves a mammoth he explained, gorge themselves, then perhaps not catch anything for a while so had to exist on stored body fat – still the penny didn’t drop! Along the way I was eating the standard British diet which included lots of bread, refined carbohydrates, chips with everything, beer (natch, I was in the Royal Navy!). Although I stopped taking sugar in anything whilst on board my one and only ship – HMS Reclaim, in 1975. I listened wholeheartedly to the conventional wisdom of the medical fraternity, dieticians and nutritionalists who all based their advice on carbohydrates, low fat, fruit veg and some protein – a so called ‘balanced diet’.

Then, along came Atkins which was quite interesting, but I couldn’t reconcile his ‘no carbs’ approach with my own view that fresh veg and fruit must be good for the body, but tried it anyway and, like everybody else, lost weight – then put it all back on again, not that I was ever really overweight. But at least he said that the danger was in the bun, not the burger itself! (no ref sorry!)

The Paleo Diet

I stumbled upon Cordain’s paper in 2009, and then the penny dropped! It made so much sense. This was the affirmation that had lurked in my subconscious for so many years. However, I still wasn’t particularly overweight at 175lbs at 5ft 11ins. but felt ‘heavy’. I’d always exercised, swim and gym, once I stopped playing sport (arthritic big toe!), but I was getting older and felt that aging was making me slowly put on weight. So having discovered this new paleo genome linked diet, I searched out more information. What I found confirmed and strengthened my resolve to do something about it. I follow Cordain’s 85/15 principle (Cordain 2002), which he explains in his book The Paleo Diet (Ibid) so I avoid the guilt if I succumb and have something non-paleo.

There are many expert writers and proponents of the Paleo lifestyle but in 2009 they were all in the USA. I could find none in the UK until now,with the emergence of Paleoworks, an excellent resource and very well written and presented.

Paleo Diet References

So I gravitated to a series of websites to do my research (Mark Sissons – The Primal Blueprint), (Loren Cordain), (Robb Wolf – The Paleo Solution). I also bought their books and those of otherexperts along the way – The Protein Power Lifeplan, (Eades M.R. and Eades M. D. 2001). The Paleo Diet (Loren Cordain, 2002), The Primal Blueprint (Mark Sissons 2009), The Paleo Solution (Robb Wolf, 2010), Why we Get Fat – Gary Taubes (2011), The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living - Volek & Phinney, 2011). The date of publication of the first two really surprised me because they certainly hadn’t come up on my radar prior to reading Cordain’s paper.

But this got me interested in the science of eating the correct foods and the debate surrounding obesity and Diabetes. This really fascinated me – I recall being on a renal nursing course in 1977/78 when @5% of our ESRF dialysis patients had diabetes. It is now a much higher proportion @25%, and you only have to look around to see a plethora of ‘muffin tops’, all munching their cupcakes and burgers.

Do your own research - the media have it wrong

I don’t have an obsession with my weight, but I do have a curiosity about how the body works, and always have had – part of the reason I became a nurse I suppose. But the more I read the more I became aware that the message in the media and from the health professions was plain wrong, and that I had been part of that disinformation for many years.

In the new year of 2009, having overindulged at Christmas, I decided that the time was right to look at Paleo as a lifestyle, realising that this was not just a diet, but a step change in the way I thought about food, its production, its composition, consumption and in caveman style, its availability. The only way I was going to make this work was by getting into the head of my ancestors. So I began to ask myself what I was going to eat now that bread had been dis-invented, there were no cows, so no dairy, and so the challenge began .....

Keep reading for Part 2 to follow listing Paul's "how to".. and practical tips for eating a paleo diet

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