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ParentsCanada - April 2015

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CAVING IN TO REALITY 34 .com A P R I L 2 0 1 5 Experts say that about 80 percent of the talking you do in a day will be to yourself. Shutterstock/ ©Gregory Gerber ©Nomad_Soul E AT I N G H ave you heard the buzz about the Paleo diet? Or are you and your family already going Paleo? It's an eating pattern that's supposed to be based on the diet of the Paleolithic man. Also known as the Caveman diet, it's a regime that avoids foods that were not available at that time – no products of modern agriculture such as dairy, grains, legumes, processed oils and sugar. Instead, only protein foods like meat and seafood, certain vegetables and fruits along with nuts and seeds are on the menu. Advocates of this eating style say that man is not genetically suited to these modern day foods. So what's the lowdown on the Paleo diet and how healthy is it? Noted nutrition expert Dr. David L. Katz offered some answers at the recent "Whole Grains: Break- ing Barriers" conference in Boston, sponsored by the food think tank Oldways and the Whole Grains Council. Dr. Katz, the founding director of Yale University's Preven- tion Research Center and Editor-in- Chief of the journal Childhood Obesity, gave a presentation called, "What did Paleo Man really eat, anyway?" It's quite different from the current Paleo or raw food movement. Firstly, though, he commented on Paleo advocates recommending a diet which seemed to offer good health for a person whose lifespan was only about 40 years, when our present life expectancy is about eight decades. Dr. Katz also pointed out many differences between the cur- rent Paleo diet compared to that of thousands of years ago. He also indicated that all the foods on the ancient Paleo diet were wild – from the animals consumed to all of the plant products. As a result, the nutritional profi le of those foods would be very different from what Paleo followers eat now. For exam- ple, when meat was on the menu, it was from an animal that ate grasses and other greens which yields a product that's very high in omega-3 fats. Even today's grass-fed beef of today falls short of omega-3s in comparison. They also ate meat only occasionally, as they fi rst had to hunt the animal down. Consequently, large amounts were indeed consumed, but over a short period of time and then the meat was gone. Today's Paleo fol- lowers eat large amounts of meat on a daily basis. "There was also no bacon or pastrami" says Dr. Katz, who describes these options as popular Paleo selections nowadays. He also revealed that the true Paleo diet included a lesser known and not very enticing menu option – bugs. Because of the wild vegetables and fruits, which were a mainstay of the Paleo diet, the fi bre intake was estimated to be about 100 grams – a whopping amount when you con- sider today's paltry intake of about 15 grams – just over half the current recommendation for kids and adults alike. According to another conference presenter, Pam Cureton, RDN, LDN, of the University of Maryland Celiac Program, who compared Paleo eat- ing to a diet which contains grains, a Paleo plan can be short on nutrients, such as fi bre, the B vitamins folate and thiamine and iron. Low levels of iron in the blood can go hand-in- hand with learning and behavioural diffi culties in children. Eliminating dairy products can also have repercussions on bone health later in life. Because the ability to deposit calcium into bones is the greatest during the teen years, some experts have called osteoporosis a disease of adolescence, showing up later in life. In the days of the cave- man, they never lived long enough to develop osteoporosis. But there is one aspect to the Paleo diet that makes it stand out favour- ably against today's eating patterns: meals were cooked from scratch, with no junk food on the menu. That may be one invaluable lesson we can take from our ancestors to promote good health. Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian in private practice and author of The Enlightened Eater's Whole Foods Guide (Viking Canada). Visit rosieschwartz.com for more. For more on healthy eating go to ParentsCanada.com/nutrition Today's Paleo diet pales in comparison to what cavemen really ate. B Y R O S I E S C H W A R T Z , R D Nutrition

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