“ADHD, Autism, Allergies, Anxiety, Asthma, Bi-Polar, Cancer, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Dementia, Diabetes, Dyslexia, Heart Disease, Schizophrenia, Obesity are all diseases that begin in the gut…. You know what else begins in the gut? A great big load of shit.” Charlie Pickering, 2015.
The Paleo Diet. A “new” fad diet that by now, I’m sure everyone has heard of. But just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick lowdown. The Paleo diet, or Palaeolithic Diet is a diet based on what our ancestors of the Palaeolithic era would have eaten. It avoids foods such as grains, legumes and many dairy foods and instead opts for lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, non-starchy vegetables and nuts. This highly celebrity-endorsed diet claims to cure many diseases and guarantees rapid weight-loss results.
Well known Australian chef and Paleo-Diet-Endorser Chris Evans (AKA ‘Paleo Pete’) was put under public scrutiny when ABC’s ‘The Weekly’ host Charlie Pickering gave a lengthy rant about the fad diet after both Channels 7 and 10 aired segments on the movement.
While the clip that Pickering is making a point about about does showcase the fad diet in all its glory, it also fails to mention how harmful the diet can be.
In Channel 7’s segment, we see that reporter Mike Willesee loses a noticeable amount of weight in the 5-week period, but when comparing the paleo food regime to his former “ice cream and coca cola” diet, it comes with no surprise that his weight improved!
“Advice such as ‘avoid all grains or all dairy’ only ensures people will miss out on vital nutrients, and adds confusion to an already noisy world filled with fad diets and empty promises of rapid weight loss.” Emma Bourke, Australian Heart Foundation, 2014
While the paleo diet does encourage eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, the exclusion of grains and dairy from a healthy diet means that people are missing out on vital nutrients. For example, grains (and other carbohydrate foods) are a good source of energy that provides essential nutrients and fibres, so the cutting out of this particular food group from a diet is not helpful in maintaining a healthy weight.
Whilst the paleo diet has gained a large amount of interest (largely through celebrity endorsement), the Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA) is warning against the diet, saying there is no evidence supporting the advantages of the diet.
In fact, the DAA have conducted some of their own research, where participant’s paleo experiences were followed for three months. They found that in the short term, the diet was hard to adhere to and very costly, with some participants even dropping out! They also reinforce that with fad diets such as the paleo diet, which are promoted by celebrities, there is no responsibility held with regards to individual diet and health advice. Proving that, seeking the advice of an Accredited Practicing Dietician (APD) is the most beneficial avenue.
Balzer, B 2014, Paleo in 25 Words, Ben Balzer’s Palaeolithic Diet Site, weblog post, 2 July, viewed 23 August 2015, <http://benbalzer.com/?s=paleo+in+25+words>
Bourke, E 2014, Heart Foundation Comment on Paleo Diet, Heart Foundation, viewed 23 August, <http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/news-media/Media-Releases-2014/Pages/heart-foundation-comment-paleo-diet.aspx>
Dieticians Association of Australia 2015, Paleo Diet, Dieticians Association of Australia, viewed 23 August, <http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/paleo-diet/>
Pickering, C 2015, The Weekly: Paleo Diet, online video, 19 August, Youtube, viewed 23 August, <https://youtu.be/gHOZhkjOclI>