With the festive season approaching, we’d like to wish you and all our readers around the world a happy and healthy end-of-year break! This month’s newsletter will help put you on a path to wellness as we steer into the New Year. Here’s a taste of what’s on offer:
- Should you go paleo?
- Low-GI eating for summer – join us for our special seasonal cookshop
- Pineapple power
- Boosting your fluids during the hot weather
- Hopewood health retreat review
- Why cherries are worth a cheer
- Safe cooking methods (part 2)
Pros & Cons of the Modern Paleo Diet
You’ve probably heard of it, and maybe even tried it. It seems the ‘paleo’ craze has become one of the hottest diet trends of late, endorsed by health bloggers, media personalities and some celebrity chefs too. But is it a healthy way to eat for the long term and should we all be adopting a paleo lifestyle?
What is the paleo diet?
The paleo diet is based on the idea that our genes have not evolved since Paleolithic times. And some think a diet that includes foods from the paleo era will better help prevent health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, which apparently did not exist back then.
This Caveman or Stone Age diet (as it’s also known) aims to mimic the hunter-gatherer diet of our ancestors. Evolutionists believe humans sustained themselves by fishing, hunting and gathering plant foods. Common meals consisted of fruits/berries, honey, starchy tubers, root vegetables, nuts, insects, eggs and meat (from birds, reptiles and mammals).
The modern interpretation
The modern paleo diet recommends avoiding grains, legumes and dairy in the belief that modern breeding and processing have made grains less digestible. It also tends to glorify large amounts of meat – at least, that’s how it’s interpreted. However, a recent study of mummies from around the world found atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) was present in one out of three mummified subjects, suggesting that such hunter-gatherer populations were not immune from cardiovascular disease! Their diet may even have promoted it.
The contemporary spin on the Palaeolithic diet emphasises meat, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds, with or without fruit. It also encourages avoiding refined sugars, oils, potatoes, salt and other processed foods. In a nutshell, the modern paleo diet approximates a low-carb, high-protein eating pattern. And it clearly does not include ancient foods (as these are not around) but must resort to using the flesh of modern animals, grass-fed or otherwise.
Inconsistencies exist between the suggested traditional paleo lifestyle and the modern-day paleo health fad. Anthropological experts have noted that traditional diets varied greatly depending on the geography, climate and season. And many Palaeolithic diets are said to actually included seeds and grasses. What’s also interesting to note is that scientists claim we have consumed grains for the last 10,000 years yet obesity has only been a major concern for last 50! Therefore, grains per se cannot be entirely to blame. The highly refined form, in which they are now mostly consumed (consider pizza and muffins) could, however, play a big role.
Modern paleo diets might also include processed meats, such as bacon, ham, sausages and salami, which were not part of ancient diets. Researchers believe that cavemen commonly sourced their protein from snails, brain, liver, kidney and other game meats, which are more nutrient-dense and contain significantly less saturated fat than any modern meat.
The popularity of the paleo diet movement has led to trendy cafe meals and speciality food products (some of which are quite expensive!) targeting consumers looking for the next big health trend. You can be sure that products, such as paleo protein powders, paleo banana bread and paleo waffles, were most definitely not a part of any traditional diet! It’s surprising then that these products are applauded by some paleo enthusiasts when wholegrains, such as barley and kamut (which have ancient origins), are forbidden.
Pros and cons of going paleo
The paleo diet can certainly be praised for promoting the consumption of more wholefoods and rallying against refined and processed junk foods. However, the exclusion of highly protectant plant-based foods seems irrational and inconsistent with research findings on modern-day humans.
It has been said that any diet that excludes entire food groups should raise alarm bells. For example, if you cut out wholegrains you should consider what nutrients you will you be missing. Is this type of diet going to be a sustainable way to eat for you and your family in the long term? Could it harm your heath?
There is now a wealth of evidence to support the health benefits of consuming more wholegrains and legumes. So any diet that taboos these foods may actually be increasing your risk of chronic diseases in the future. For one thing, by avoiding these foods you would be cutting out a very important and significant source of dietary fibre, now recognised to be vital for good gut health and immunity. One particular type of fibre, called resistant starch, comes predominately from wholegrains and legumes and provides fodder for our friendly gut bacteria. In turn, they switch resistant starch into short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, known to protect our cells from damage, especially colon cancer. The bottom line: current research suggests that if you’re skipping wholegrains and legumes in your diet you could be missing out on protection from cancer and many other deadly diseases!
The high content of red meat in many modern paleo diets is another reason for potential concern. After reviewing more than 5000 research studies on diet and cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund identified a strong link between high red meat consumption and colorectal cancer – regardless of the type of meat you eat. Conversely, it has recognised that foods high in fibre (wholegrains and legumes) have a protective effect against many types of cancer as well as assisting to maintain a healthy weight.
What about the level of evidence for modern paleo eating as a whole? The truth is that studies are few in numbers with only a small sample of participants and high drop-out rates, as the diet is difficult to stick to. While you might feel good immediately after switching to any diet that shuns processed and junk food, you should remember that not all such diets are created equal. Mediterranean, vegetarian and low-GI diets, which emphasise wholegrains and legumes have been studied extensively and shown positive effects on the treatment and prevention of conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
The bottom line
No one can argue that our lifestyle today isn’t vastly different from ancient times. We are far more sedentary and what our more active forefathers might have eaten (if anyone could know for sure) may no longer be ideal for our space age bodies.
Any diet advocating more wholefoods and less processed food is a step in the right direction. But due to the potential health concerns of eating unlimited amounts of meat and restricting legumes and wholegrains, which actively fight disease, you’re better off adopting something old that’s been tried and tested. For example, the traditional Mediterranean or traditional Asian diet would be far more beneficial to your long-term health, even with your modern lifestyle.
"When diet is WRONG, medicine is of no use. When diet is CORRECT, of medicine there is no need." (Ancient Ayurvedic Proverb).
What’s Cooking – Simple Summer Meal & Snack Ideas to Make Low GI Eating Delicious
Have you been avoiding carbs to try and shift weight or lower your blood sugar?
Not all carbs are created equal. Research shows wholegrain, low-GI carbs can actually help you better sustain your weight loss for the long term, feel more satisfied and regulate blood sugar levels – all without having to starve yourself!
They also reduce inflammation in your body and help protect against cancers and heart disease!
Learn how to use the Glycaemic Index (GI) in your kitchen to create delicious meals with superstar carbs. Become enlightened by new research that shows some starchy foods (previously called “complex carbohydrates”) are just as bad (or even worse) for your body than sugar! Discover nifty seasoning and portioning tricks to lower the blood sugar raising effect of an entire meal.
Perfect if you or your loved one has diabetes, insulin resistance, PCOS, fatty liver or is struggling to keep that weight off!
Join us to become a mini-carb connoisseur and share your learnings from this cookshop with your family and friends.
When: Tuesday, 3rd February 2015, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Where: Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic, Castle Hill (Sydney)
Learn more about our cookshops
Enjoy a delicious tasting menu throughout the evening and take home recipes and handouts!
This event could change your life and your love/hate relationship with food!
Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to book your place as this event is very popular. Bring your partner!
What’s Fresh? – Pineapple
“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” SpongeBob Square Pants lived in one, but this popular fruit is far more than a house for a cartoon character.
The tropical fruit is a native of Brazil but grows well in the warmer Australian climate. Historically, the pineapple spread through South America by natives of Southern Brazil and Paraguay until it was cultivated by the Mayans and Aztecs in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. It is said Christopher Columbus was responsible for bringing the “pina de indies” (or pine of the Indies) back with him to Europe in the late 1400s. In Europe, the pineapple was also referred to as “anana” which means “the excellent fruit”. It wasn’t until the late 17th century in England that the name “pineapple” gained popularity. Today, pineapples are commercially produced in Australia, the West Indies, the Azores, Hawaii, Brazil and South Africa.
How can they help you? Pineapples provide a range of essential nutrients including fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate, manganese and potassium. Just one slice of this tasty fruit can provide 7 % of our daily requirement of fibre and a whopping 50 % of vitamin C. Pineapples, like most fruits, have a medium glycaemic index (59) but a low glycaemic load, meaning they are suitable for everyone to enjoy, including diabetics. Even those with irritable bowels can include pineapple in their daily fruit intake as it is low in FODMAPs (it contains only trace amounts of fructans). Pineapples also contain an enzyme called bromelain which helps break down protein, and emerging research indicates this enzyme promotes cancer cell apoptosis (cell death), inhibits platelet aggregation (stickiness of certain blood cells), has an anti-inflammatory action and may potentially aid in wound healing.
Although considered a summer fruit, the pineapple is available all year round. For best value, look for pineapple in the warmer months between November and February, which means now! Choosing the freshest fruit is not as tricky as most people believe. Pineapples are usually ripe as soon as they hit the stores so don’t be fooled by the colour of their skin as this can naturally change between seasons. Look out for freshness by checking for spots and bruises and make sure the leaves appear fresh and green.
6 fun ways to enjoy pineapple:
- Imbibe it as a delicious raw food snack
- Crushed or pureed with sparkling water over ice for a refreshing summery drink
- Frozen pineapple pieces make a healthy “ice block”. For a variation, roll in shredded coconut before freezing
- Use pineapple juice as a marinade. The bromelain enzyme helps tenderise meat as well as adding a delicious acidic flavour
- Add to fruit salads for a healthy summery dessert
- Make a stunning garnish for desserts: slice off circles of pineapple using a mandolin then bake them in the oven until they dry out and you have pineapple flowers!
Food Matters with Sue Radd – Need to Boost Fluids
Are you drinking enough water? The warmer weather is here and many people struggle to get enough water during the day, resulting in fatigue, reduced performance and sometimes even health problems. Read Sue Radd’s article to learn about additional healthy beverages you can use to top up your fluids and stay well watered.
Health Retreat Review – Hopewood
Need some chill out time? Or a break from all your stresses to just focus on your health goals? You might like to check in to a health retreat. This edition we give you the low down on Hopewood, located at the base of the Blue Mountains and visited recently by Sue Radd. Read what Sue has to say. It might be just what you are looking for!
Food InFocus – Cherries: Nature’s Anti-inflammatory Super Heroes
Australian cherries have arrived, so get stuck into them as they only have a short season! Watch this TV episode with Sue Radd to discover how cherries could help up with inflammatory pain as well as giving you a better night’s sleep! Plus, they’re super delicious!
Kitchen Tips – How Safe are Your Cooking Methods? (Part 2)
Last month we looked at certain toxic chemicals (HCAs and PAHs) produced when cooking meat, chicken or fish at high temperature, which could pose a threat to your health. Here are two more suspects you should be aware of that can be formed during cooking at high, dry temperatures:
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
AGEs are a group of highly oxidant compounds formed when cooking various foods with high, dry heat. They have been linked to conditions such as cataracts, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and the early onset of diabetes complications as they drive inflammation in the body! Interestingly, they are naturally present in highest amounts in most animal products, like chicken breast or cheddar cheese, even before cooking. The lowest levels occur in unprocessed plant foods, such as fruits and grains, and milk is also low in AGEs. AGEs are deceptive as they give food a desirable taste, smell and appearance – think roast lamb or grilled steak which is browned, or golden potato crisps, melt-in-the mouth biscuits and iced donuts! Dry heat promotes the formation of AGEs by 10-100 fold compared to the uncooked state! To limit your exposure to AGEs, use acidic marinades for meats, choose low-fat dairy products (if you eat dairy), such as cottage cheese, and avoid packet snack foods as these are processed using dry heat cooking methods. And, of course, eat more fresh produce as this is free of AGEs!
A chemical formed solely in carbohydrate-rich foods prepared under dry heat, high cooking temperatures, such as when you fry, toast, bake and roast carb foods – or when this is done for you by the food industry! This chemical has been linked with cancer and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recommends reducing your exposure while research in humans is ongoing. Here are a few ways: eat bread without toasting (or only lightly toast it and opt for rye); soak rolled grains or cook other wholegrains in water from scratch for breakfast rather than choosing ready-to-eat boxed cereals; enjoy boiled potatoes instead of frying them or eating hot chips; snack on fresh fruit or raw nuts rather than potato chips or chocolate; and swap your coffee for tea (remember, coffee is made from roasted beans, so it’s loaded with acrylamide!).
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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2014.
Suite 10, 80 Cecil Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 2154 Ph: +61 2 9899 5208 Fx: +61 2 9899 2848 www.nwbc.com.au
We are a boutique Dietitians clinic in Sydney, Australia, offering one-on-one consultations, culinary medicine cooking workshops, motivational health seminars and nutrition advisory services to businesses in the local and global area.
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