Is the Paleo Diet a Load of Bunkum?

paleo diet cavemanI reckon it’s not all bunkum as I actually like a some of what the diet has to offer. The paleo diet says let’s all have less carbs, and sugar in any form is a carbohydrate so why not less of that? The last few years I have cut down on sugar quite a bit and also have less starchy food, but more so called good fats (I consider these to be saturated as well as monounsaturated). Of course not all would agree but personally I feel the benefits.

It would be essential for someone on any diet to make sure they are not missing out on important nutrients. The one-size-fits-all approach of diets is silly really. We all respond differently to foods and have different nutritional needs, so it’s better to experiment and create a personalised diet that sits well with your own body. Books and videos spruiking the latest fad are guides only and should not be taken as gospel, no matter how convincing the food guru sounds.

Back to paleo. So the theory here is to mimic the diet of our paleolithic ancestors – basically less carbs, no cropped grains and a restricted variety of pre-agricultural vegetables and fruit. But it begs the question – what did our ancestors really eat? A new study in the Quarterly Review of Biology says big brains need carbs. It says “carbohydrate consumption, particularly in the form of starch, was critical for the accelerated expansion of the human brain over the last million years, and co-evolved both with the variation of the salivary amylase genes and controlled fire use for cooking”.

Importantly the brain uses up to 60% of blood glucose and eating starches are a very efficient way of getting fuel for good wholesome thoughts. And contrary to what a lot of paleo dieters think, starches would have been readily available as well as seeds, fruits and nuts. So our paleolithic ancestors were not only tucking into mammoth but also into a naughty amount of evil carbohydrates.

Also human salivary glands produce a good amount of amylase to break down starches – an evolutionary adaptation to eating said starches. Other apes produce very little and so have less carbohydrates in their diet.

Not to say of course the paleo diet is not best for you. We all have our needs.

Quiet Earth sponsored audio: Cafe Mantra Nurture

Categories: Health and Lifestyle

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