Story by personal trainer, health coach and popular author, Scotty Gooding
The last five years has been quite a rollercoaster ride for the Paleo diet in Australia, with it going from obscurity, to widespread acceptance, to demonisation.
This tumultuous ride over such a relatively short period of time has intrigued and polarised people, and this way of eating has often been the target of media scrutiny and ridicule.
As an advocate and proponent of the ancestral diet, I’ve encountered much resistance at the same time as much head-nodding from the Australian public.
What is it about the Paleo diet that has ruffled so many feathers? And why do I get asked questions from people concerned about the health implications of this type of lifestyle? Questions like…
“Is it dangerous?”
“Is it just the latest fad diet?
“Could it be detrimental to the health of our children?”
“Is it sustainable?”
The underlying reasons for concerns come from the simple fact that the Paleo diet is the antithesis of our modern diet. Our modern diet is characterised by highly processed, refined foods which are inherently bad for our health. Manufacturers, retailers and consumers have become so accustomed to this modern lifestyle and convenience foods that when a “new” (and I use that term very loosely) pops up, it naturally pokes a stick in the eye of convention and ruffles feathers.
Let me set the record straight: it is my belief as personal trainer, health coach and author that eating food in its most natural state is not only sustainable, affordable and healthy, but far removed from the ‘dangerous’ label that it’s been pinned with.
Sure, the Paleo diet does promote abstinence from certain foods, which some people may find confronting, but there are good reasons for this. Explore the ancestral diet and you’ll quickly realise that the foods it embraces promotes a healthy microbiome or gut flora. The role of bacteria in our guts is widely accepted as pivotal to our overall health and wellbeing, so why wouldn’t you foster good gut health for you and your family?
We change the microbiome with every mouthful. We also affect gene expression with every mouthful, so live the healthiest life you can by choosing the right foods and the right macro-nutrients. We are naturally designed to be lean and strong. It is our genetic blueprint to be so and it’s only the modern diet that has steered us off course, but by following a few simple step we can redress the balance and reclaim our health.
Embracing whole foods, natural fats, organic foods where possible and ethical meat, including offal, is the path to optimal health. It’s paramount to our health that we shun highly processed foods and foods that are created in a food lab.
Here are a few key Paleo points to help you get started:
- Avoid GMOs
- If you choose to eat meat, consider eating nose to tail
- Source ethical and sustainable sources of meat, poultry and fish
- Eat nutrient-rich foods such as many algae, offal and leafy greens
- A purist Paleo diet is a high fat, moderate protein and minimal carb diet (HFLC)
- Avoid grains, legumes and dairy or at least reduce their intake
- Eat fermented foods
- Support local producers
- Buy at farmers markets when possible
- Cook at home
- If a food has more than five ingredients, pop it back on the shelf
- Read labels. Processed oils and sugar have crept into so many products
- Eat from as many different natural sources as possible. Aboriginals are said to have eaten from over 800 natural sources. The modern American eats from just four.
- Eat the rainbow
It’s important to acknowledge that there is no one diet that fits all and often people can tolerate foods that others can’t, but selecting foods that nourish your gut flora and avoiding foods that disrupt gut flora integrity is the key to health and longevity.
Want to know more? I’ll be joining forces with Flow Athletic on July 21 for an evening called ‘Debunking the Paelo Myth’. You can bring all of your nutrition and Paleo questions and curiosities, and I’ll be creating some super-easy and affordable dishes that will help you on your path to optimal health. See you there!