Great to see the Telegraph reporting earlier this month that the Paleo diet was the most searched-for diet on the internet last year. Tap in ‘Paleo diet’ in Google trends and we also get some exceptionally high rises over the last year.
Things are progressing but unfortunately the Telegraph couldn’t let it go without a warning about all that ‘fat-laden meat at the expense of the whole host of good things (calcium, vitamin D, fibre and antixoxidants among them) which are found in dairy and grains.’
This sort of misinformation is a real shame.
As we know, fat is essential (see here). We should not be afraid of good fats and that includes the saturated fat in meat. In fact, our avoidance of fat (twinned with an abundance of ‘healthy’ carbs) has led us into all sorts of problems and deprived us of an essential nutrient, especially for brain function. Fatty meat was regarded as a prized source of food for our hunter-gatherer ancestors, with the leaner meat less so. If we are eating animals that have been entirely grain fed and factory farmed, we will want to limit the fat intake as this is where many of the toxins are stored, but on the whole fatty meat is good stuff.
Apart from the fact that many Paleo adherents enjoy limited forms of dairy if tolerated (fermented products in particular), the idea that dairy products are essential for adequate calcium intake is contentious. Foods such as oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), nuts (almonds in particular), leafy greens (kale especially), tahini and sea vegetables are all excellent sources of calcium. Then there is the fact that Vitamin D controls the amount of calcium within the bones – see my post on Vitamin D here. It is impossible to make up for deficiencies in this hormone by food alone. Apart from this, the links between calcium and bone health are highly contentious, as are the links between calcium deficiency and osteoporosis.
As for grains, we know that the phytates in grain products inhibit mineral absorption (calcium, Vitamin D) and that upon examination, the bones of our Paleolithic ancestors, pre-agricultural revolution and consequently all those grains) showed remarkable strength.
Lastly, our fibre and anti-oxidants are easily available in leafy vegetables and limited fruit without the need to resort to grain consumption. This is nonsense.
Of additional interest in the article was the fact that the Ketogenic diet was also listed, although describing the process of ketone fuelling as a ‘starvation state’ rather than as a perfectly normal process was somewhat alarming.
Anyway, mustn’t grumble too much – at least it gets the word out for the start of 2014. Happy New Year!
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