Dr Joe Kosterich
You can often tell what people are interested in by what is getting lots or airtime in the media. This week both Sunday night news programs have run stories on the paleo diet where the journalist went on to that diet.
Extremes are never helpful in health including extreme diets where certain foods are cut out completely. There is much to recommend the paleo diet as it has no processed foods and virtually no sugar. However completely eliminating all grains and dairy is not necessary for a healthy diet.
What is surprising is the degree of angst this diet generates and some of the pointless criticisms. My favourite is that the caveman did not live as long as we do today. Duh! That is a statement of fact. But the reason for this is not that they succumbed to dietary related illness. The caveman died from trauma (being eaten by predators or killed by another tribe), exposure to the elements or lack of food.
Another is that we don’t want to live in caves. Absolutely, but so what!
The modern western lifestyle, diet and lack of exercise in particular are a factor in some 75% of the illness burden we face in western countries. Over the last 40 years governments and health authorities have recommended a low fat, high sugar diet. The end result has been an increase in obesity, type two diabetes and heart disease to name but three.
Yet there remains a refusal to admit that government advice has been wrong. Diets like paleo, which focus on real foods, found in nature and which are low in sugar and refined foods challenge the current orthodoxy. It virtually tips the (in my opinion useless) food pyramid on its head.
There is no need to be a purist. Healthy eating is not a religion. However eating foods more like those our ancestors ate is good for us. Eat mainly foods which till recently were growing somewhere or moving around. Eat mainly food, which if not eaten or frozen would have to be thrown out next week. Drink mainly water.
Do this and you can enjoy ice cream or a croissant as a treat on some days.