Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Modern diets are out of step with our evolutionary needs - Dr Carrie Ruxton

“I recently authored a study on behalf of the Meat Advisory Panel, published in Complete Nutrition, outlining how foods which were rarely, or never, eaten by our ancestors now account for 70% of our daily energy intake.

“Questions which can be drawn from this is to ask if our modern eating habits are actually powering an epidemic of obesity and diet-related diseases, such as cancer and cardiac problems and what would happen to this crisis if we returned to a more ancestral, paleo-type diet.

“Genetically we are still stone-age hunter-gathers who flourish on a diet of lean meat, fruit, vegetables and nuts, but in this day and age we are surrounded by foods laden with sugar, simple carbohydrates and the wrong type of fats – all within easy reach.

“If we take a look at the fossil record and diets of contemporary hunter-gatherer societies, it suggests that we are actually best suited to a diet which is higher in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and fibre, but lower in carbohydrates, omega-6 fatty acids and saturated fats, and devoid of refined sugars.

“Often red meat gets the blame as being a risk factor in cardiovascular disease, but in fact modern hunter-gatherers eat far more red meat than is recommended in Western countries, yet have a far lower risk of cardiovascular conditions.

“If we take a leaf out of our ancestor’s book and follow protein-rich eating regimes, which includes a moderate amount of red meat, such as the Paleo diet, we could be benefiting from countless health benefits.

"As a result of this research, I developed a five-point plan which highlights the benefits of a paleo-type diet and suggests simples swaps to eat for your evolutionary age." 

Paleo diets


health impact

Modern equivalents

High intakes of game meat

High intakes of MUFA, PUFA, lower SFA. High intakes of protein

Choose lean red meat and game, remove any visible fat and cook without extra fat, or use olive oil

Low intakes of processed carbohydrates and modern grains

Lower carbohydrate content and lower GL than modern diets. More dietary variety from gathered grains

Include a wider range of wholegrains in the diet e.g. rye, spelt, barley, flax, teff (ancient grain)

Use of honey and fruits to sweeten

Reduced added sugar consumption, lower GI

Honey and fruits can still be used to sweeten

Foraged marine foods

High intakes of n3PUFA and vitamin D

Consume fish twice a week, including one portion of oily fish. Consume shellfish and molluscs

Wide variety of foraged plant foods

High intakes of fibre and PUFA

Snack on nuts and seeds. Choose a wider variety of vegetables

 [i1]Are we suggesting that others adopt this 5 point plan… is the aim to help other HCPs spread this news of what we should and should not be eating?

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