The Paleo Diet has been in the news a lot lately, with celebrities and advocates singing its praises. But the popular diet has also been shrouded in controversy, with the Dieticians Association of Australia discrediting some of the alleged health benefits of the diet.
So what is the Paleo Diet and what do the experts say about it?
The Paleo Diet is also known as the ‘caveman’ diet, and is based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans (or cavemen). It consists mainly of meat, fish, vegetables, nuts and fruit and explicitly excludes dairy, grains (pasta, cereal, etc.) and processed food like lollies and chocolate.
Palaeolithic diets were first suggested by Eaton and Konner in 1985, who claimed that by eating like our prehistoric ancestors, we’ll be leaner and less likely to get diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems.
The premise of the diet is that back in the day, grains and dairy weren’t part of our vernacular. Eaton and Konner suggested that the human body isn’t able to properly process starchy foods and dairy introduced in modern times, and this has caused a number of current day chronic metabolic disorders.
The diet also suggests that not all calories are created equal, and that 400 calories of chips won’t affect your body the same way as 400 calories of veggies and lean meat will.
Paleo Diet – yes or no?
While many people have advocated the Paleo Diet, insisting they’ve transformed their lives with the ‘Paleo Way’, the experts aren’t all sold on it.
The Dietitian’s Association of Australia (DAA) acknowledges the positive aspects of the Paleo Diet, such as the focus on eating nutritious whole foods and empowering people to take control of their health. However the DAA promotes a healthy, balanced diet, and argues the Paleo Diet is not consistent with the Commonwealth Department of Health’s Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADGs), as it cuts out entire food groups like grains and dairy.
The guidelines were developed by thousands of independent experts in nutrition, are regularly updated and have been the accepted authority on dietary guidelines for many years. Significant investment has also gone into developing the ADGS, and after years of study and practise, the experts involved are qualified to provide dietary advice.
So what’s the consensus? The main thing to remember is that there is no one diet that fits all, and what is right for one person might not be right for you. While it is always good to try a healthier way of living, don’t be hasty in discarding the advice of the experts!