No Grains, legumes and certain dairy products. This is the Palaeolithic diet also known as the Stone Age or Caveman Diet and it has been one of the most googled weight loss diets. BEFORE you jump on the PALEO Diet here are a few you should consider……..
The Stone Age or Caveman diet which has become increasingly popular for weight loss in recent times was based on the diets of prehistoric humans millions of years ago which included wild plants and animals.
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What does science suggest?
Firstly, there is NOT enough scientific evidence supporting the benefits of the Paleo diet. Whilst our ancestor may have consumed this kind of diet, their lifestyle was a lot different to today. Food was scarce so our ancestors ate what was available at the time and they also lived a very active lifestyle of hunting and gathering food. Now days food is readily available and we live a mostly sedentary lifestyle which is quite different to the lives of our ancestors.
Whats missing from the Paleo Diet?
Importantly, the Paleo diet excludes wholegrains, legumes and dairy products and as each of these food groups provide us with different nutrients, this is not recommended. Wholegrains contain fibre, selenium, potassium and magnesium and B vitamins. Fibre is important for a healthy digestive tract, selenium is an antioxidant that protects our cells from damage and B-vitamins are essential for bodily functions including the production of energy. Dairy products contain calcium, vitamin D and potassium and these nutrients are important for healthy bones. Legumes contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid, B vitamins (especially folate), iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, fibre and other phytonutrients. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are healthy fats that benefit cardiovascular health and zinc is important for a healthy immune system. By excluding these foods, we are reducing the opportunity to gain optimal nutrition through a wide variety of foods. More importantly, Paleo is NOT appropriate for children, athletes, pregnant women or diabetics.
Is the Paleo Diet sustainable?
From an environmental perspective the Paleo diet is NOT sustainable for the whole population. The production livestock stresses the land, contributes to pollution and increases water consumption. There is also a lot of wastage as we mostly eat the muscle meats and meat products are boned. In contrast, our ancestors would eat the whole animal including its organs gaining a wider variety of nutrients from the different parts of the animal and producing less wastage. Most of us cannot afford the costs of the Paleo diet as it is mostly meats, nuts and vegetables which are generally more expensive than wholegrains and cereals which contribute to our diet.
The Australian dietary guidelines have been developed based on rigorous research over many years and have been designed to meet the requirements of the WHOLE population. This way of eating is also much more sustainable. Eating a variety of foods including ALL food groups is VITAL for good health.
- Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council, Department of health and Ageing. (2013). Eat for health, Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved from https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating
- Metzgara, M., Rideoutb, T., Fontes-Villalbac, M.,Kuipersd, R. (2011).The feasibility of a Paleolithic diet for low-income consumers. Nutrition Review. 31(6), 444–451. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2011.05.008. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.ecu.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0271531711000960
- Nestle, M. (2000). Paleolithic diets: a sceptical view. British Nutrition Foundation, Nutrition Bulletin. 25 (1), 43–47 Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.ecu.edu.au/doi/10.1046/j.1467-3010.2000.00019.x/epdf