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The Scoop on the Paleo Movement: Another Fad?

shutterstock_78293896-640x506Word on the street is that ‘Paleo’ is all about going back in time, around 10,000 years ago that is. This current diet craze is all about following a nutritional plan based on what the cavemen ate in the Paleolithic period between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago. So are we looking at another fad or could this be the solution to our dieting woos? Here’s the intel…

Living as hunter-gatherers is what life was like for cavemen. Picking fruits off bushes, chasing prey for meat, scavenging organs from animals that other predators have killed and fishing in rivers with spears and nets. Fortunately, current followers of the Paleo movement do none of this. So what is consumed? Meat, fish, shellfish, nuts, fruits and vegetables. The “no nos” of the diet include dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, processed foods, soft drinks and juices.

Now let me start by saying this: the logic behind the Paleo diet is hardly convincing where supporters claim that we are genetically programmed to eat like our ancestors given that we our biologically identical to our fellow cavemen. This basically goes against human evolution and adaptation where experts claim that if humans and other species could only thrive in environments similar to the ones our fellow cavemen lived in, life would have been cut short and not lasted very long.

The Paleo diet does have a strong advantage, which experts such as myself, have been advocating for years; a healthier diet based on lean meats, whole foods instead of processed, less sugar and salt and the goodness of fruits and vegetables. Despite this great message, the restrictions placed make it another diet that is unsustainable due to the elimination of certain food groups. Eliminating dairy places a risk for people becoming calcium deficient unless a large (unrealistic) amount of high calcium vegetables are consumed on a daily basis. The ban on grains means cutting out an excellent source of energy and fibre and saying goodbye to legumes, well, signifies an end to a great source of protein, fibre, and iron. Personally, any diet that eliminates a food group in the name of poorly researched-science or health, goes straight into the fad box.

My Verdict

Going a “little bit” paleo would actually benefit everyone but not without a little tweaking here and there. The “refined” Paleo could resemble the following:

  • Avoiding processed and refined sugars
  • Including a good variety of fruits, vegetables and fresh legumes on a daily basis
  • Consuming lean meats and fish
  • Including low-fat dairy products
  • Focusing on wholegrain breads and cereals
  • Consuming a good variety of nuts and seeds in small quantities
  • And finally, to stop labelling our way of eating. Paleo, Raw, Atkins, low this, no that…This could just simply be a “way of life diet” rather than following a particular trend which is frequently short-lived and temporary.

(This is an excerpt from my weekly columns on POSE)

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