Is the media getting wise to the benefits of the Paleo diet? A brief report in NewsMax and Shape magazines there is an outline of the benefits of following the Paleo diet. But have they described it properly? Are people getting the right picture of this way of living?
Sometimes referred to as caveman living, the Paleo plan nixes every sort of food and drink from your diet except for meat, fruit, vegetables, and water, reports Shape magazine.
The Paleo diet brings dieters back to their primal roots and puts the kibosh on all processed, unnatural, or high-fat foods that end up on your body as excess fat. Foods that are high in carbohydrates (even “healthy” ones) are also discouraged because carbs that the body does not use for energy are stored instead as fat.
Chicken and vegetable stir fry. Suitable food for the paleo diet. Photo by Magnus Manske
From the description above it sounds rather grim, when in fact the foods that are not allowed are all modern processed foods (by modern I include Neolithic foods, such as grains and legumes). And perhaps to some people that is grim, but the benefits of losing the grains are worth it. When you lose the grains you also lose digestive upsets, insulin spikes, the inevitable carb crash to name just a few. Another misconception to note is that the Paleo diet is being called “low carbohydrate”. I don’t believe that is true. A large variety of carbs are permitted, just not sugars and grains. We can eat fruits like mangos, bananas, grapes and watermelon, all high sugar fruits and sweet potatoes, taro and yams, foods all relatively high in carbs. Granted, someone like myself, who was in the past insulin resistant should limit the consumption of such foods, but I think most healthy Paleo followers can enjoy these foods when in season. A low carb diet would restrict these foods for certain.
The list of benefits from Shape magazine (my comments in red and green):
1. No processed foods: While many low-fat and low-carb diets can still technically be followed with the wide variety of “low-carb” and “low-fat” junk food on grocery store shelves, the Paleo diet calls exclusively for organic foods and beverages. A clean diet helps the body to function at its best and promotes the feeling of general well-being. Sounds about right
2. Reduces Bloat: The Paleo diet encourages increased intake of fiber and water and the avoidance of salt — the recipe for a flatter stomach. The “bloat” is actually due to gas created by too much fiber, in a grain based diet. By eliminating the grain, the bloat and gas are gone. I’ve never heard of the Paleo diet being a high fiber diet, but please correct me if I’m wrong. I also question the avoidance of salt. I know that some Paleo followers limit salt, but our Paleo ancestors would have had access to salt and would have used it. But the salt should be sea salt, not the iodized junk from the supermarket.
3. Fruits and Vegetables: Getting the recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables can be tough, but with the Paleo diet, it’s no problem. It may take more time and preparation to snack on fruits and veggies than on a treat from the vending machine, but organic foods contain essential vitamins and minerals that keep you feeling and looking good. Sounds good to me, especially the organic part
4. High in Healthy Fats: The Paleo diet is not fat-free — dieters are allowed foods like fish and nuts that are high in omega-3, the good type of fat. Omega-3 fatty acids perform a wide range of tasks, from fighting the signs of aging to improving brain function. While true, what’s also missing are the animal fats, lard, tallow, poultry fat, and the all important plant fats like coconut and palm oil
5. It’s Filling: While other diets may leave you feeling hungry soon after you’ve eaten, the Paleo diet is rich in fiber, which makes the body feel fuller longer. Feeling satisfied on a diet increases the chances that you will stick with it. It is true that the diet keeps you full longer, but fiber has nothing to do with it. We get full by eating meat and fat. These are the foods that keep you satisfied for hours, even to the extent of being able to do intermittent fasting
Well, three out of five isn’t too bad, when you consider what other misinformation is out there. But periodically we have to set the record straight on the benefits of the Paleo diet so that people looking for good information find it. Any thoughts? Did I leave anything out?
- NewsMax magazine
- Shape magazine