Blue Paleo- the new Black?

January 16, 2013

I’ve come up with a new shade of Paleo- Blue Paleo! This is the safer way for people who want to get the benefits of raw Paleo without the ickiness of raw. Indeed you can even get sashimi cooked blue now- see below.

Robb Wolf’s blog post of 7 Shades of Paleo is a great list of the most common forms of Paleo diets. Of course, we all know that the ultimate for purists must be the Raw Paleo diet, though few of us would care to venture there. While we all eat fruit raw, and are comfortable eating most Paleo vegetables raw, it is a different matter when it comes to meat (using meat broadly to include meat, offal, fish, chicken etc). We like the security of cooking our meat as it zaps those little nuisances called bacteria, and perhaps we feel it is a little icky from years of social conditioning. Indeed in many countries it is essential to cook your meat and there is nothing you can do about it. Some countries even have tapeworms or pork trichinosis and it is essential not only to cook the meat but to make sure it is well done. However, many of us live in countries like Australia with strong government supervision of food safety where we can be more liberal.

Many of us have eaten raw meats such as sashimi, carpaccio, steak Tartare, oysters, clams and fish eggs. Perhaps you are eating more raw meat than you realised. The French are renowned for eating their steaks barely cooked, perhaps even quivering, but few are bold enough to venture down the hairy-chested road of full raw meat. I have toyed with the idea off and on for years. Indeed I have met some esteemed colleagues who eat raw Paleo (and who follow anapsology in France). These raw Paleo devotees rave about the health benefits and how wonderful they feel, and they look very healthy and energetic.

Scientific discussion of cooking focuses on its effects on bacteria count, digestibility etc, and doesn’t really make a great case for raw. Certainly scientists reject out of hand the notion that we need active enzymes etc in our food as they feel they are generally destroyed by our digestive processes. The most startling evidence in favour of a raw diet was Dr Francis Pottenger Jnr’s Cat experiment- he studied groups of cats fed cod liver oil, meat and milk. If either the meat or the milk were cooked, there were massive health consequences to the cats and their progeny that progressed each generation. Even plants did not grow well on their droppings!

But I keep being drawn back to the concept of raw meat, and here is why: At stages of our evolution we ate completely raw meats, followed by a period where we ate a mixture of raw and cooked meats, and eventually we ate only cooked meats (in many cultures and religions, always cooked well done). Rather than look for research to show that raw has benefits, I would like to reverse the question and ask “what are the consequences of cooking our food, particularly on our metabolism, immune system and our gut?” We don’t really know the answer to that so why not give it a try in planned and safe way.

With this in mind, I had planned to start trying some meat cooked blue- which is less cooked than rare- basically the outside is cooked (sterilised) and the inside is totally uncooked and still cool. The inside of meat should be sterile (however in some countries this cannot be guaranteed particularly for chicken), provided it is not minced or skewered (both unsuitable for blue cooking).

Cooking your meat blue:

  1. Kills bacteria on the outside of the meat
  2. Gives it the same look and colour as fully cooked meat
  3. Has a great mouth feel as it is very tender
  4. Tastes as good or better than fully cooked meat
  5. Will have 100% of the vitamin content without any degradation
  6. Will digest more slowly- both the protein and the fat, as cooking “externalises” some of the digestive process. This explains the observation that many people make that raw meat makes their appetite go away and that weight control happens automatically.

Recently I got to try a blue form of sashimi, called New Style Sashimi invented by famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa at his Nobu restaurant in Waikiki. He has a number of these restaurants and his partners include Robert de Niro. You can see how it is made here. Basically the fresh salmon sashimi (raw fish) is sliced thinly, dressed with various garnishes, and then he heats a mixture of sesame and olive oil, and spoons this over the food to cook its outside on the plate. I can tell you the taste is astonishing, as were the other dishes that my wife Sandra and I ate at Nobu!

Now that I am back in Sydney, the wonderful Nobu taste sensation has spurred me on to finally start on a Blue Paleo diet- so this week it has been all blue meat, mainly lamb, and a few vegetables and a small amount of fruit. I also went low salt for the first time (I should have done so years ago, apologies to my friend the late great Dr Trevor Beard ). Where has my appetite gone? I’ve been mainly cooking in a fry pan, with olive oil, to ensure coating of the meat- such as diced lamb, lamb cutlets, or beef steak. Once the outside has been browned, that’s it. You can look at Google for more on blue steak.

I can only say that if you have been tempted to try raw, just go Blue!

Disclaimer: Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food-borne illness, particularly in the elderly, in children and those with immunosuppression or chronic diseases such as gut diseases, diabetes or renal impairment. The risk may be worse in certain countries. If you are unsure, consult your doctor prior to changing your eating habits.

The Lord of the Diets

July 31, 2012

My poetry has been favourably compared to Vogon poetry, so I thought I would rewrite the Lord of the Rings Epigraph as an ode to Paleo.

Paleo, The Lord of the Diets:
Omega 3 for everything under the sky
Vitamins minerals fibre for body and bone
Saving mortal men doomed to die
One free of dark toxins to gut and immune
From the land of the past where our ancestors lie.
One Diet to rule them all, One Diet to find them,
One Diet to unify them all and from the darkness free them
From the land of the past where our ancestors lie.

Ben Balzer



“Epigraph”, The Lord of the Rings:
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

J. R. R. Tolkien



And The Winner Is………. Paleo!!!

July 31, 2012

With Google Insights you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. I compared a range of popular diets, and the winner is??? Paleo!!!






Paleo gets the gold medal on Google Insights! Google Insights gives us some interesting information on diet trends. The end of year holiday season/ New Years Resolution peak is a perennial cracker. It appears that Paleo has eclipsed the competition!!!!

Vegetarian diet is similar but a little less than vegan. I was surprised at how sturdy Atkins support remains. Paleo seems to be going up maybe 2.5 times per annum give or take. Also it doesn’t have the January through December collapse, it is still trending up. I would model that with the logistic function (not logistic regression) which would indicate a long way to go.

Depression, evolution and inflammation. Back to the diet.

March 14, 2012

There is a great blog on Evolutionary Psychiatry Dr Emily Deans click here. Emily’s post on depression and inflammation, genetics and evolution is very interesting and links to a paper on this topic full free text here. Like all GP’s I get to see a lot of depression and it is a challenging condition, even with the most dedicated specialist treatment, and total patient cooperation.

My interest in  the ideal neuro-developmental diet dates back to my days when I was involved in a community group preventing lead poisoning . Lead has profound effects on the brain, causing reduced IQ, and ADHD and sociopathy. And lead poisoning was almost universal in the USA until 1990. This made it clear to me that the brain is affected by things other than genetics. Later when I became interested in the Paleolithic diet I eventually discovered that it is the ideal neuro-developmental diet and some interesting work has already gone on, including the Ghent conference where Cunnane gave this interesting appraisal including his own original theory. Prof Michael Crawford in London does some ground breaking work in this field.

The brain is the biggest loser in the Neolithic Diet. It is no coincidence that the diet of our Paleolithic forebears was associated with an explosion in brain size. Every modification of our diet since, has had a negative impact on the brain.

To understand the issue we need to forget about the complexities of the brain and focus on 2 general issues- wiring and firing. Wiring is the structure of the brain, size and position of nuclei (clusters of neurons) and the interconnections (synapses) made by axons and dendrites. Firing describes the release of neurotransmitters- where 2 nerves connect, they communicate when an electrical impulse arrives, not by sharing the impulse, but by the first nerve releasing chemicals (neurotransmitters) into the connection (synapse).

The modern diet is low in long chain omega 3. (Ultimate Reference Book= The Omega Diet by Simopoulos and Robinson) Bad for wiring as the synapses are made of omega 3. Bad for firing as neurotransmitters are packaged into “synaptic vesicles” using omega 3. This is why fish oil helps depression.

Next problem, let us go past folic acid which is a vitamin needed for the methyl cycle, and remember that it is just one of 4 methyl amigos. The 4 methyl amigos are folic acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6 and Choline (the forgotten one). We all know that folic acid or B12 deficiency affect cell migration in the embryo (this deficiency may cause spina bifida). Let us also remember that methyl vitamins are needed to produce serotonin, and I think also dopamine and norepinephrine (don’t quote me).  So stress on this system can reduce production of these neurotransmitters, which is of course central to depression.

Wind back to CHOLINE. Now this only became a vitamin in 1999, and is needed to make Acetyl Choline, one of the main neurotransmitters, and the target of many Alzheimers drugs (But no papers on Alzheimers and simple supplements of choline as they are too cheap). Now 70% of the population are deficient in choline. Whoopsy. Back to square one.

The deficiency of choline makes it likely that our brains are structurally disorganised due to poor cell migration. It would also contribute to reduced production of neurotransmitters to make matters worse. Increased homocysteine makes it worse again.

Agreed that brain inflammation is undesirable and there are many avenues cited in Loren Cordain’s epic paper Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double Edged Sword. The seminal single reference on paleolithic diet and health and disease. See also and .

And on it goes. Neolithic life is also associated with very high risk of lead poisoning (though Americans born after 1990 might be low in lead, which is why their IQ is higher). And a few other issues such as iodine deficiency (though unusual in USA and Canada but common in Australia and Europe).

If the incidence of depression has increased in recent decades, then the increased inflammation may not be entirely evolutionary (as the time frame is decades rather than millenia). Since the early 1900’s (detoxified cottonseed oil) there has been an increased intake of short chain omega 6 oil (pro inflammatory) which became a flood in the late 1960’s with the widespread recommendation of safflower and sunflower oil consumption. These oil have physiological effects on our bodies, which is to say they are drugs. It was made worse again by adding lots of trans fats to solidify them to mimic butter or give processed foods a good “mouth feel” or extend shelf life etc.

This highly inflammatory diet change has been associated with asthma, arthritis, cancer, depression, ADHD, macular degeneration to name a few diseases.

The Pathos-D paper makes the unwarranted assumption that depression is a genetic illness simply because of the association of some alleles with depression. There is a simple reason why dietary diseases look like genetic diseases which I have posted about before. If everyone smoked we would think lung cancer was genetic. Similarly everyone eats a harmful Neolithic diet, so we think that dietary diseases are genetic. Everyone eats a lot of salt so we might once have thought that hypertension was largely genetic, but everyone knows it is largely due to the massive amounts of salt added by food companies.

I used to confuse phenotype (our health or illness or other character) with genotype (the architect’s plans), but have fortunately downgraded the status of the gene in comparison to diet (with the exception of the small but important number of true genetic diseases). We can upgrade to the GDE model- genes diet and exercise cause most variations in PHENOTYPE. An analogy is that if your house falls down- who do you blame? The architect (genes), the building materials (diet) or the workmanship (exercise). Anyone who has built of renovated a home knows that the work of the architect is generally superior but there are often problems with the materials or workmanship.

Weston Price’s classical text Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, 1939, details his world journeys looking at the links of diet and dental disease and other disease. He is perhaps the second Darwin, the Darwin of food. He did not encounter any cases of depression. The one case of suicide was due to intractable dental pain, due to cavities from introduced Western foods such as flour and sugar.

The Omega Diet tells us that more recent investigators in Japanese fishing villages found not one case of depression when surveying elderly people.

Dethrone King Gene. The Phenotype is King and is mostly determined by diet and exercise (otherwise we might as well give up). If everything is genetic then what point is there in diet and exercise? None at all. However we all have seen and felt and know that diet and exercise is critical. Don’t be sold down the river by the gene.

What is the psychology of the widespread acceptance of genetic explanations?
I would venture that they are overly accepted because they are esoteric, doctors themselves are bit confused. Doctors and scientists rather like genetic explanations as they are intelligent, and if intelligence is primarily genetic (which I dispute) then it makes them fundamentally and naturally superior (and their families and offspring) so there is an appeal to the ego. And genetic studies get a good percentage of research funding grants. Genetics always promises that all the answers are just around the corner, just like the magic software program that doesn’t actually work, the share investment system that never beats the index funds, and anything else that is sold heavily but doesn’t deliver. Yes, it’s time to deliver some healthy skepticism to the geneticists and ask “where are your results?”. Obviously DNA has delivered a range of excellent PCR pathology tests, and recombination DNA protein products, but for the man is the street, genetic testing might pick a handful of useful results. And for the man with depression, how many have been helped?

The Environment and Meat Eaters

July 9, 2008

Carnivores are paradoxically the ancient protectors of the environment.

Consider this, when the first major African game parks in South Africa and Kenya and elsewhere were made, the animals were initially left undisturbed in the belief that interference could be harmful. Elephants and buffalo have no significant natural enemies other than man, and their herds grew rapidly in the game parks. Elephants destroy several trees every day as they eat their bark or simply sharpen their tusks. Buffalo and elephant herds trample much grass. Within a short time they turned bushland to grass land and grass land to dust. Elephants were then starving to death along with other animals. It then became apparent that these herbivore species can be extremely damaging to the environment. So culling of the game park populations began. In due course, these populations were brought into balance with the environment, the environment again flourished and it has been sustainable for decades ever since (though culling remains debated).

This simple illustration shows us that carnivores are actually very protective to the environment. Forests and grasslands are actually protected and nurtured by carnivores. Humans are the only carnivore that is capable of killing elephants and buffaloes, and prehistorically we killed off even larger herbivores (megafauna). Whilst it is a shame that these giant megafauna were eliminated, the big winners were the forests and grasslands. This frames carnivorous activity in a different philosophical light to that which is usually believed. According to this model the human race were probably the most protective of all animals towards the environment. This of course explains our ancient spiritual beliefs, from Gaia in ancient Greece to the hunter gatherers who say “the people belong to the land, the land does not belong to the people”. Our role as custodians of the land is ancient and our spirits continue to yearn for it today.

Where did it all go wrong? With the act of farming which Jared Diamond refers to as “The Worst Mistake In The History Of The Human Race”. The act of farming is one where we destroy the inedible plant species in an environment and then replace them with edible species or graze domesticated herds. We immediately went from being the protectors of the environment to its destroyers. Vegans correctly remind us that grazing cattle is more destructive than raising vegetable crops, but they conveniently overlook the fact that all farms exist in destroyed habitats. At least we can all agree that grain fed meat is particularly destructive, and leads to inferior quality meat (that is softer due to high amounts of harmful saturated fat- see ).

We should recall that salinisation from farming has destroyed much of the world’s arable land. Indeed salinisation of wheat farms is mentioned in the oldest clay tablets from the Middle East (Stephanie Dalley, Myths from Mesopotamia), and we are all aware that the ancient Middle Eastern Fertile Crescent now has much desert due to human activity. In the end, it may already be too late to save our farmlands. Then we shall be forced to turn to oceanic farming, which ironically enough will provide us with paleolithic style foods only.

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April 30, 2008

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April 19, 2008

The Paleolithic Diet is the only diet that is over 2 million years old. While it is ideal for most people, there are exceptions. It is definitely not suitable for people with iron overload (haemochromatosis, hemochromatosis) as it is very high in iron. It is not suitable at this stage for people with kidney disease as it is high in protein. Its effect on gout is not yet known and it should be avoided in uncontrolled gout.

It is recommended that you have regular checkups from your registered licensed health care provider and follow their advice.

In pregnancy and other situations, care must be taken to observe advice from your registered licensed health care provider- for example to avoid foods that are at risk for Listeria infection in pregnancy.

The information in this website is of a general nature only and may not be suitable for you. It is not a substitute for advice from your registered licensed health care provider. This website is not intended to diagnose treat prevent or cure any illness.

Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food-borne illness, particularly in the elderly, in children, in pregnancy, and those with immunosuppression or chronic diseases such as gut diseases, diabetes or renal impairment. The risk may be worse in certain countries. If you are unsure, consult your doctor prior to changing your eating habits.

Wishing you the best of health

Dr Ben Balzer

Introduction to the Paleolithic Diet

April 19, 2008

Paleo-basics-handout-2007 Click me

Hello world!

October 30, 2007

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