The Paleo Diet
Modern human beings always need to have a new diet, with a catchy name, to focus their attention on. At the moment, that’s the Paleo Diet.
The Paleo diet has actually been around since the 1970’s, but has caught on recently and is considered by many to be THE diet at the moment.
Basically, the Paleo diet is a high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diet that centres on unprocessed foods that is designed to sell books, diet plans and food products. Proponents of the diet have taken some positive principles (high protein and unprocessed foods) to extremes in order to make the concept seem more complex than it needs to be in order to justify why you should be buying their books, diet plans and foods.
“Eat like a caveman”, is the catchcry of the Paleo diet, but ignore the fact that cavemen in different parts of the world had access to different types of food and had a life expectancy much less than ours today.
Modern diets are responsible for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancers, allergies and every other ailment according to Paleo diet pundits.
The reality is that many of these conditions are the result of a modern and affluent lifestyle, and food is only one component of that lifestyle.
The Paleo diet recommends that followers of the diet avoid foods that weren’t available to our prehistoric ancestors, such as dairy, grains, legumes, processed oils, salt and sugar. It argues that modern human beings aren’t equipped genetically to process these foods because they haven’t been around that long (relatively speaking) and that our bodies haven’t evolved fast enough to cope with them.
The reality is that the human body is amazingly adaptable when it comes to surviving and flourishing on a range of different foods, sourced for regions around the world. What our ancestors had in common with each other, and us today, is that they were genetically adapted to eating food that was readily available to them in their local environment.
That’s one of the reasons that human beings have flourished and are the dominant species on earth; they are extremely adaptable to different and changing environments.
Foods recommended and excluded on the Paleo diet
Many Paleo diets recommend the following foods:
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Coconut Oil
Many Paleo diets exclude the following foods:
- Dairy Products
- Processed Oils
- Refined Sugar
What the Experts say
Many nutritionists have pointed out that there is no scientific evidence to support the Paleo diet.
According to the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), “… a high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diet with no dairy products or grains is not supported by the extensive body of research that is currently available.”
The DAA go on to say “The modern Paleo diet has been tested in very few people and only over the short term. Participants often drop out of the studies because the diet is difficult to adapt to and it is reportedly more expensive. While the emphasis on fruit and vegetables, and high-quality food choices rather than processed options is a positive feature, the diet fails to provide all nutrients as per current recommendations and excludes foods and whole food groups.”
Excluding foods and whole food groups is never good in a diet. In fact, one of the guiding principles of the Australian Dietary Guidelines is for Australians to enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods everyday from the five food groups, which includes grains and dairy as two of the five groups. By excluding whole food groups, the Paleo diet is considered unwise by dietitians, and they warn that strict followers of the diet may risk falling short on key nutrients.
So is the Paleo diet right for you?
Some of the principles of the Paleo diet are OK, such as limiting the amount of processed and refined foods and the principle that we share the same genes as our distant ancestors and many foods we eat are relatively modern seems to make some sense, but like most things, taken to the extreme this diet can do more harm than good.
Consuming a wide variety of foods that you prepare yourself from products that are as natural as possible is the real key to good health, weight loss and healthy weight maintenance and longevity.
Remember that Paleo is just a marketing term designed to try to sell you books, diets and products.
This article was written by Scott Haywood.
Scott is the editor of weightloss.com.au. Scott has developed an expertise in fitness and nutrition, and their roles in weight loss, which led him to launch weightloss.com.au in 2005. Today, weightloss.com.au provides weight loss and fitness information, including hundreds of healthy recipes, weight loss tools and tips, articles, and more, to millions of people around the world, helping them to lead happier, healthier, lives.
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