Review of Ray Audette’s Book “Neanderthin”

by EDITOR on August 18, 2009


Ray Audette starts off by describing a few of the 19th and early 20th century gurus like Banting, Stefansson and Kellogg. He makes one error of omission about Stefansson in that he claims that Stefansson suffered a minor stroke in 1960 as a result of eating conventional carb-rich foods supplied by his wife, after which he resumed his all-meat diet – Stefansson is known to have subsequently died of a stroke at the age of 82, which is not a good sign.

Then Ray Audette goes on to describe his journey from ill-health via a (cooked) Stone-Age diet. He mentions how auto-immune diseases are routinely caused by Neolithic-era foods, such as grains.

At this stage , he goes on to define exactly what a Palaeolithic Diet is:- “My definition of nature is the absence of technology. Technology-dependent foods would never be ingested by a human being in Nature. I determined, therefore, to eat only those foods that would be available to me if I were naked of all technology save that of a convenient sharp stick or stone.”

The trouble with this admittedly standard definition of a Palaeolithic Diet is that the absence of technology by definition means NOT cooking one’s food as fire/cooking involves technology. Yet, despite this definition, palaeo gurus routinely recommend eating cooked-food. Then Ray goes on to point out the fallacy behind the notion that calorie-counting is useful in combatting obesity.

Then Ray Audette goes on to make a highly controversial claim, made in some circles, that hunter-gatherer tribes only had to search for food for c.3 hours a day, and that famine was almost unheard of. Yet, Palaeo proponents, among others, point out the frequency of famine in the Palaeolithic and the fact that even Neolithic-era tribes experienced famine. Indeed, one of the main reasons why Neolithic settled communities managed to outbreed Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer tribes was that the former had access to greater levels of foods. Granted, many of those extra foods, such as grains and dairy, turned out to be extremely harmful in terms of provoking autoimmune diseases etc., but their consumption allowed such agrarian societies to have an earlier age of puberty and other benefits, while Palaeolithic tribes were restricted in terms of population-size by their smaller food-supply.

Milk/glue issue:- Ray mentions how commercial glue is made from mixing dairy and acid and then draining off the excess fluid, and that a similiar process happens to dairy in the human digestive system. Hardly a recommendation for drinking dairy. Ray Audette praises high-fat milk by comparions to low-fat milk, but that may simply be because he is unaware of the deleterious effects of fat in dairy by comparison to the better fats in (raw) meat.

Ray then goes on to state that one should rigidly avoid all non-Palaeo foods like refined sugars and alcohol, because of the drug-like addictive effects they have on the brain. He does accept that alcohol made from fruits is barely OK, as Palaeo cavemen would have drunk alcohol from fermented fruit, from time to time.

Subsequently, Ray mentions a claim I never knew, that monkeys in zoos fail to thrive if never fed on animal protein. I would love to see evidence that absolutely ALL monkeys need animal protein, as I’m just a tiny bit sceptical. He then goes on to mention that vegetarians often end up with health-problems such as anaemia and other deficiency-diseases, especially the children of vegetarians.

Then, crucially for rawpalaeos, he makes the statement that some scientists claim that raw red meat contains all the nutrients needed for human survival. He then has a crucial paragraph in which he states that, even though raw meat is ideal, raw, commercial meat is to be avoided(presumably as it is generally grainfed, not grassfed, meat, which is harmful to human health).

Then he goes on about how the Inuit would eat lots of raw meat(true) but then goes on to describe the indians of North America eating pemmican, which he claims to be raw(which is false as the fat is rendered/heated). At any rate, Ray Audette is one of the very few Palaeoists who admit that raw meat is generally superior to cooked meats.

Ray then goes on to describe the limitations placed on a Palaeo diet. For example, he suggests that now that it is possible to get hold of fruit and vegetables all year round, unlike in the Palaeolithic era, it is advisable to reduce consumption of fruits and veg so as to limit insulin-resistance.

Ray Audette then addresses the problem, that so many studies damn the consumption of (cooked) saturated fats. He suggests that people with only access to omega-3-poor commercial meats, should supplement their diet with omega-3-rich oils like cod-liver oil.(There are a very few truly raw fermented cod liver oil products such as the one sold by Blue Ice).His ideal-recommended diet would include wild game meats like elk, bison or 100% grassfed/wild beef, wildcaught fish, and the like. He suggests that if one excludes cooked saturated-fat-rich dairy and cooked fat from commercial meats, that the actual cooked  saturated-fat-intake would be much lower than expected, as it’s the unhealthy fats from commercial meats and dairy which make up the major component of cooked saturated fats in the human diet.

Ray then mentions a crucial point, that, while there are people allergic to meats, these people are generally allergic to the grain-components found in grainfed meats, so that it is crucial to only go after 100% grassfed meats or wild-game meats. Ray subsequently mentions the basics of his version of the Palaeolithic Diet(which is much like Michael Eades’):- lots of (non-commercial meat, limit sugars (and fruit/veg re weight-loss), avoid dairy/legumes/grains, eat lots of fats and limit carbohydrates).

Ray then mentions specifics about the various Palaeo-friendly foods. For example, he suggests that while fertilised eggs are better than non-fertilised eggs, he suggests that this is solely because those fertilised eggs are raised, with a view to breeding rather than egg-production. This view is almost certainly wrong as avidin in eggs(which is an antinutrient) is greatly reduced when an egg is fertilised. Though, Ray is right re claiming that eggs from wild birds are the healthiest – after all, wild birds only lay eggs in season and don’t artificially lay eggs all year round as they aren’t artificially fed on grains all the time.

Ray then mentions how coffee is unhealthy and non-Palaeo, yet, bizarrely, accepts tea(green tea/herbal tea) as healthy. Neither “foods” are, of course, allowed on a raw, palaeo diet. He also mentions the benefits of sunlight re creation of vitamin D(though I am convinced that exposure to sunlight has other benefits as well).

Ray, afterwards, mentions how ketosis can have awkward side-effects but suggests eating a small amount of vegetables if negative symptoms occur.There is evidence online to show that (cooked) ketogenic diets do indeed cause numerous nasty side-effects such as kidney-stones etc.

Ray then has 2 chapters on various(rather raw-unfriendly) recipes and an exercise-regime. While there is very little of interest in these chapters, I should point out how Ray is entirely wrong in suggesting that Palaeo tribesmen were subject sometimes to low-intensity exercise(or none at all). In actual fact, countless studies of Palaeo human bones have conclusively shown that Palaeo humans experienced intense physical exercise every single day of their lives, with them being described as being superior, athletically, to any of our modern Olympic athletes.Ray als states, interestingly, that processed foods such as microwave-ready meals are very unhealthy, though his reasons for this are only that such processed meals often contain preservatives derived from grains and dairy. Rawpalaeos, of course, recognise the fact that overprocessed foods have even worse characteristics(re heat-created toxins), given the increased danger of microwave-cooking etc.

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