Our author Kate Callaghan responds to an article in the recent Body + Soul publication. To read the full article go to this link here Body + Soul.
Here is an extract of the blog that Kate has recently posted in response to the article. If you would like to read the full response here is the link to Kate’s website.
These are some of the questions that Kate was asked – and here are her responses in full.
What is your opinion on the Paleo diet?
If implemented appropriately to ensure all nutrients are acquired, and it is tailored to the individual, I think it can be a wonderful way of eating. It also has the potential to heal, or at least manage, many health conditions, and can be a great option for those needing to lose weight.
Note: I actually prefer the term “ancestral eating” as opposed to “paleo diet”, as I don’t think we need to go back as far as paleo man to get a good idea of what we should be eating. I talk about this at length in my book “Holistic Nutrition: Eat Well, Train Smart & Be Kind to Your Body”
What are some of the benefits and some of the dangers of the Paleo diet?
Encourages the consumption of a range of fresh vegetables and fruit, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre
Encourages eating locally and seasonally, which means more nutritious foods, kinder to the environment (less transport required), and supports local producers
Avoids unhealthy packaged and processed foods that are devoid of nutrients, such as cakes and biscuits
Avoids foods that can be problematic for many people, such as gluten-containing grains, legumes and dairy products
Encourages the consumption of ethically and appropriately raised animal products,and encourages the consumption of the WHOLE animal (including organs and bones), which is less wasteful, and more respectful of the animal (and more nutritious – which I talk at length about in my book, as well as how to prepare them in a tasty way!)
Is not a “one-size-fits-all” – the Paleo diet/ancestral eating is more of a template, which can be tweaked to suit the individual. For example, some people will do better with a low carb paleo diet, while others will need to increase their carbohydrate intake to help them feel their best. I discuss different strategies for specific conditions (such as PCOS, HA and menopause) in my book, Holistic Nutrition
Encourages people to not fear unrefined fats (such as avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut oil), which are essential to our health (hormone health, brain health, gut health, and cellular integrity, to name a few)
Is a highly satiating diet (thanks to the fat content)
Encourages the adoption of different lifestyle practices that are biologically appropriate, and health-promoting, such as lifting heavy things periodically, walking in nature, making time to play, incorporating stress management techniques and ensuring optimal sleep
If not implemented appropriately, there is a risk of nutritional deficiencies. For example, many people who start on the Paleo diet will only consume the muscle meat of animals, and neglect the organs. By doing so, they are missing out on some amazing sources of vitamins and minerals
Many women who turn to a paleo diet tend to cut out all carbohydrates (including root veggies and fruit), which can cause issues with their menstrual health and fertility,especially when combined with high intensity interval training (such as CrossFit). This is something I really delve into in my book “Holistic Nutrition” which is now available for sale. Check it out!
Some people see the paleo diet as an “eat meat all the time” diet. If we look historically at what our ancestors ate, most of them had a very plant-based diet (some getting up to 150g of fibre from plants, which is about 5 times the recommended intake of today). While animal protein is a wonderful source of nutrition and should be included as part of a wholesome diet, it’s not necessary, or even healthy, to have every meal of every day.
Something called “bulletproof coffee” has become quite popular in the paleo community. This is coffee blended with coconut oil (medium-chain-triglycerides) and butter. Many people choose to have this in place of breakfast. Unfortunately, while completely fine to consume during the day, this drink is really lacking in vitamins and minerals. Replacing a whole meal with it could increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies
Is there any validity to claims that we need to “eat like our ancestors”?
Absolutely! But I don’t think that necessarily means we need to go back to the Paleolithic era. We could simply look back at what our great grandparents were eating, and draw from their experiences
Whether we go all the way back to the Paleolithic era, or our more recent ancestors, we need to focus more on what they did NOT consume, rather than what they DID. What our ancestors did not consume were unhealthy “foods” such as refined sugar, refined grains, and refined and highly processed oils.
What they also have in common is that they were all free to chronic disease, despite having greatly varied diets across the world.
There is the argument that we should not aspire to eat like “paleo man” as the lifespan was quite short, however we need to take into consideration WHY their lifespan was short – was it their diet? Or was it perhaps that they did not have access to life-saving medical facilities? For example, if they cut themselves quite badly, there was no antibiotics or medical treatment available to help them heal. This cut could then become infected, which could be fatal. They were also exposed to the elements a lot more – unlike the comforts of our modern day homes.
Find out more in detail in Kate’s book or via her website blog.