Paleo – best thing since sliced bread?!…

“Welcome back to our very own IsoWhey Chef, Janine Royce, guest blogger –  who today is talking about the oldest diet known to mankind, the PALEO diet but which is only recently gaining popularity!  Over to you Janine!…

Well if your ancestors didn’t eat it then you shouldn’t either and since bread only came in the last 10,000 years it certainly is not a feature on the Paleo diet menu……

The Paleo diet is not new (well it cant be if it was round 2.5 million years ago!!) having been popularised in the 70’s by a book called the “Stone Age Diet” written by gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin. Then followed  the Atkins diet in the 90’s loosely related, with a high protein, low carb approach. But it seems Paleo didn’t become big till 2010 with experts such as Loren Cordain & Rob Wolf contributing to it becoming prominent. Now if you google Paleo Diet there is endless reading on the subject.

So why is it the Paleo Diet has become a bit of a buzz word?  

It is a way of life where you eat like our ancestors did – apparently our genetics have not really changed much since our early years and this makes us suited or able to adapt easily to this diet. It suggests you eat meat protein, vegetables (all except potatoes, sweet potatoes- or tuber like vegetables), fruit (limited), nuts & seeds . It does not include any foods which we have become accustomed to in our modern day diets such as dairy foods, bread and cereals, sugar, processed & refined foods. Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, soybeans including  soy foods) are off the menu too. No alcohol either.

But we need to ask is there really one perfect diet suited to every human being? 

I do believe the modern Western diet is contributing to the energy imbalance that is causing the global obesity problems we currently have, and I know if we reduce this intake of refined carbs and sugar it will definitely help with fat loss.

A high protein diet is going to help build lean muscle which will not only help burn more fat, but will keep us feeling more satisfied for longer. 

But there are questions: 

Could eating too much red meat be acidic, deplete calcium, overwork the kidneys and liver and stagnate in the intestines disrupting beneficial flora? High meat consumption has also been linked to an increased cancer risk which is in contrast to studies on Paleo diets that say the risk is reduced for other modern diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

There would need to be balance here, ensuring you are eating plenty of vegetables, preferably raw (think salads) with beneficial enzymes to help with digestion. Remember to eat a moderate serve of meat, no bigger than the palm of your hand and eat lean, grass fed meat which is higher in omega 3’s.

A 2011 ranking by US News & World Report involving a panel of 22 experts, ranked the Paleo diet lowest of the 20 diets evaluated based on factors including health, weight-loss and ease of following.  These results were repeated in the 2012 survey, where the diet was placed 24th out of 24, stating that their experts “took issue with the diet on every measure”.The Dieticians Association of Australia does not support the diet, as the recommendations are not in line with those of the Dietary Guidelines for Australians. The claim is the diet is strict and encourages restrictive eating that is not sustainable long-term.

Whilst there are ticks for not including refined and processed foods in this or any diet, unrefined grains such as brown rice, millet, quinoa and buckwheat are all high in fibre and antioxidants plus vitamins & minerals. They are protective against modern diseases. We do eat far too much wheat and this has been reflected  in it becoming highly allergenic in modern day diets with many people having intolerances or being diagnosed as coeliac. But, if you are removing grains along with your lentils and beans on the Paleo diet, can you still get enough fibre?

Dairy foods get mixed reviews as part of any diet and also on the Paleo diet, as it can trigger allergic responses and intolerance with lactose and casein being the main culprits. But if you are cutting out dairy foods then you can risk falling short on important nutrients. The Dietary Guidelines for Australians recommends two or more dairy food servings for adults and recognise the benefits of calcium and vitamin D found in dairy foods in promoting bone health and preventing osteoporosis. If you do cut out dairy foods then you need to keep up your calcium intake by eating calcium rich foods such as leafy greens, nuts & seeds and you may need to look at supplementing with calcium and vitamin D. Having small amounts of fermented dairy such as yoghurt, kefir and lassi can be beneficial as these are cultured with good bacteria which can improve digestibility.

Whilst you may not want to start eating foods that have to be picked or hunted in nature, the Paleo diet does have aspects, as I have mentioned above, that make it a healthy approach to eating. 

You need to find something that works for you personally and can be part of a balanced lifestyle, as its about looking after your health in the long term.

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