Book Review: The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant

The Paleo Manifesto
From Book Description:

“The Paleo Manifesto takes readers on a thrilling ride to the Paleolithic Age and beyond, unlocking the health secrets of our ancient ancestors. What do obese gorillas teach us about weight loss? how can Paleolithic skulls contain beautiful sets of teeth? Why is the Bible so obsessed with hygiene? What do NASA astronauts teach us about getting a good  night’s sleep?  And how are Silicon Valley techies hacking the human body? Blending science and culture, anthropology and philosophy, John Durant distills the lessons from his adventures and shows how to apply them to day-to-day life, teaching people how to construct their own personal ‘habitat’ that will enable them to thrive.”

My Comments:

I first heard of the paleo diet a long while ago when I was learning about intermittent fasting. Then I discovered that I have a gluten intolerance, and while researching about that, I found even more information about the paleo diet. From what I have been reading, a lot of people who start out gluten free often progress their diets into a paleo-like diet. I can see why. After a few false starts, I have been fully gluten free for almost two months and I feel so much better. Now I am almost ready to take my diet one step further and try to eliminate sugar and processed foods, which the paleo diet promotes. Thus, when I had the opportunity to read and review The Paleo Manifesto, I jumped at the chance.

There are many things about this book that I liked, but there is one thing I want to address that gave me pause: his theory of evolution. Although Durant incorporates information from the Bible and various religious traditions, his history of the development of man is secular in nature. This sent me on a search to find out what the Catholic Church teaches about evolution. The church does not have an official stance on biological evolution, but it does have an official stance on human evolution. According to Catholic Answers, “It [ the Church] allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul.” In other words, it is okay to believe that the human evolved over time, but it must be coupled with the truth that God created and endowed every human being with a soul. For me, a lot of what Durant writes makes a lot of sense, but I also took some of what he wrote about the history of man with a grain of salt. I encourage you to do your own research on evolution, compare it with what is written in The Paleo Manifesto, and draw your own conclusions.

In the first part of the book, Durant gives a history lesson on the diet and lifestyle of man from 530 million years ago up to today. Each chapter is sprinkled with his personal experience, coupled with science and research.

One of the interesting things about this book is the discovery that the paleo diet is more than just a diet or eating like a caveman. It is a lifestyle. According to Durant, Paleo is about how a person eats, moves, sleeps, interacts with others and even body regulation. And that is what part two of the book deals with. In this section Durant gives detailed “instruction” in what (and what not) to eat, how to move and exercise in a paleo way. He also writes about thermoregulation, specifically about how we relate to heat and cold, and the importance of sleep and re-aligning our balance with the sun. This is my favorite section of the book. It is practical and insightful. I am not sure how much of the paleo lifestyle, besides the diet, I will incorporate, but I have already started experimenting. For example, Durant writes a lot about allowing oneself to wake up naturally, without the grating sound of an alarm clock. Well, I haven’t used an alarm clock in years since I am an early riser, so I took the next step and just got rid of my clock altogether. He also writes about why it is important to stand or walk as much as possible, and the dangers of sitting for long periods. So, I have started to stand or walk as much as possible, within the limits of my cerebral palsy.

In the final section of the book, Durant writes about the challenges of living as a hunter and gatherer. He also “takes on” those who oppose the paleo principles, particularly vegetarians and vegans.  Actually, he also talks about the vegetarian diet earlier in the book, debunking their health claims, and  in this section he specifically discusses their concern about the treatment of animals by the meat industry. He also gives suggestions on how to have (and teach our children to have) a healthy relationship with food.

Over all, the book is well-written, informative, and I would recommend the book to anyone interested in the paleo diet or lifestyle. I give the book four (4) stars.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books <http://blogging for books.org> book review  program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

To learn more about the Catholic Church teaching on evolution go to:

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/adam-eve-and-evolution

http://www.cuf.org/2004/04/gods-big-bang-the-church-and-evolution/

http://www.ewtn.com/library/HUMANITY/EVOLUTN.TXT

 

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