Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Is Bok Choy Paleo?

There seems to be a conception in the paleo community that foods deemed "paleo" are somehow "safe".  Folks shy away from milk because, "dairy's not paleo!"

Paleo, in a nutshell, is a diet that avoids grains, legumes, dairy, and suggests eating less fat.  (I confess I've not read the latest version of "The Paleo Diet", but this was what the original version said, basically.)

The presumption is that certain foods were introduced late in our evolutionary experience, and that we're not fully adapted to eating them.  Therefore, we should avoid them.  Sounds sensible.

One of things that the paleo diet is hot on, however, is vegetables.

"How about daikon radishes, bok choy, or bamboo shoots? We encourage you to explore ethnic markets and check out their produce sections." --The Paleo Diet Cook Book, page 159.

Then we have the raw paleo diet:  "To obtain enough calcium on a raw Paleolithic diet, you will need to regularly consume raw leafy greens, broccoli, bok choy, okra, sesame seeds[,] and almonds. "

The raw paleo diet takes the paleo diet one step further, and presumes that we should not eat anything that's not paleo, and, additionally, that we should only eat things that can safely be consumed raw.  (This is a fairly ridiculous qualifier, IMHO, but that will have to be fodder for another post.)

Wow.  So this bok choy, it must be a paleo super-food, right?

Myxedema Coma Induced by Ingestion of Raw Bok Choy
"An 88-year-old Chinese woman was brought to the emergency department by her family, who reported that she had been lethargic and unable to walk or swallow for 3 days. She had been eating an estimated 1.0 to 1.5 kg of raw bok choy daily for several months in the belief that it would help control her diabetes...."
I'll note that bok choy is safer when it's cooked.

The real point of the Paleo diet ought to be to recognize that our ancestors ate a wide variety of foods, and were very attentive to foods effects on their bodies.  (Primates also test foods before they eat them, that's not just a paleo trait.)  They tried to avoid over-consuming the toxic ones, and they developed means of detoxifying many toxic foods to allow for safe consumption.

Even then our paleo ancestors may have had a grandmother who lacked common sense.