Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is Honey Paleo?

In this interview Dr. Loren Cordain dings honey as being "not paleo." I'm curious to know how he knows when humans started consuming honey...  I vaguely recall seeing a documentary when I was a kid about how a primitive hunter-gatherer tribe collected honey. But it pretty surely wasn't a staple. ;)

In fact, two seconds of Googling reveal the Efe and the Mbuti:

"Gathering honey is an important subsistence activity for Efe men, second only to hunting. While the men spend an average of 11.1% of their time in the forest actively looking for hives, they are frequently seen looking up during other activities, such as hunting"

"One of the main foods that the Mbuti gather is honey. During the honey season, honey can account for up to 80% of their caloric intake (Hewlett and Walker 1990). Although honey is a valued food product, it is only available during a few certain months a year."

Both tribes are stone-age hunter-gatherers.  They both eat massive amounts of honey, in fact, it is a staple.  So why is honey not "paleo"?

Dr. Cordain has done great research, but stuff like this and his ridiculous (since corrected) advocacy of canola oil drive me batty.

That's why if I recommend a "paleo" diet book to people, I recommend The Primal Blueprint.  Sisson may lack a PhD, but his Google skills are excellent, and he has common sense.

Update: OK, so after typing this I opened up the pdf referenced in the "The Paleo Diet Cookbook" post.

"In most cases, a dose response exists between these novel foods and the emergence of disease.  For instance, occasional seasonal exposure to honey (a refined sugar) results in negligible dental caries rates in hunter-gatherers, whereas daily consumption of refined sucrose in Western diets almost universally causes a high incidence of caries and dental decay."
This is written by Dr. Cordain.  So I'm even more confused.  Why is honey not paleo?

P.S.  Mark Sisson covers honey, displaying his common sense:

"Can you eat it? Sure; you can do just about anything you want. Should you eat it? That depends. Are you active and in need of liver glycogen repletion like the guy who climbed the Congolese tree? Then raw honey might be a nice choice for a treat. It’s clearly superior to refined sugar, and the extent of the damage we normally see from sugar intake doesn’t seem to occur with honey."