New diet? Paleo-thoughts to ponder…

Nowadays we all grow up “eco-conscious” – we have to! And kids today start making lifestyle decisions at a very early age: my daughter – at 8 – has several friends that are already vegetarian or even vegan. For the rest… we do yoga at dawn, breakfast on organic avocado, drink green tea and avoid coffee like the plague.Constantly chasing the latest nutritional advice and pursuing the newest dietary trend, we are overwhelmed by food-related TV programmes and articles in the press – by information bombarding us from every angle, in fact, on how to eat to be healthier and live longer.

But at what cost this preoccupation? Without doubt, time and money! But could there also be cost to our wellbeing?

One of the latest trends is the “stone age” or paleo diet, where lean meat, crustaceans and vegetables are strongly encouraged to the exclusion of carbsand dairy. It is a relatively new food approach that is nevertheless convincingmore and more people around the world.
In order to follow it you must embrace a strict menu that cavemen are purported to have followed: red and white meat, fish, nuts, seeds and veg; no alcohol, but green tea and coconut milk are allowed..

Is this diet really good for us?

The diet was first launched in 1975 by gastro-enterologist, Walter Voegtlin, and further developed over the years by different authors with support from various related scientific studies. The theory assumes that about 2,500 to 10,000 years ago, mankind would have established its genetic heritage while eating mostly meat and vegetable matter. When agriculture and dairy produce were introduced, man apparently never managed to adapt, and the illnesses and diseases of modern society started to arise in consequence.

In reality we are of course not so sure of what our ancestors ate, much depending on
season and continent… Moreover, some scientists have revealed that cereals were on the menu well before the arrival of agriculture – perhaps about 20,000 years ago. It’s also a fact that humans never had as much meat in their diet as they do now: in Paleolithic times meat simply wasn’t so easy to get hold of!

So why is the paleo diet becoming so popular? Not sure. I just know that in many countries, processed carbs are enriched with sugar. Pasta when overcooked has an increased glycaemic index, rendering it an enemy to good health unless eaten “al dente”. Could be these some of the reasons to see carbs are enemies?

My view is that we don’t need to look back to stone-age man to understand our ideal diet today. We already know the food model that favours good health and longevity is eating a variety of everything.. “all things in moderation!” I put myself in the category of flexitarian! I’m flexible… I try and eat everything with a degree of self-awareness, “committed to my decisions, but flexible in my approach”.

And I strongly believe in the proverb that we are what we eat. As Hippocrates advised, almost 2500 years ago, “Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food”. It’s truer today than ever!




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