Is the Paleo Diet Sustainable for you?

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30 Apr 2015

Is the popular Paleo Diet a sustainable option for you? That was one of many questions addressed by CPIT's final year Bachelor of Applied Nutrition students during recent presentations.

The students have been studying misleading and sensational aspects of nutritional information in magazines and newspapers. They recently presented their findings at CPIT.

Senior Lecturer in Sports Science, Health and Wellness Dr Nick Kimber says misleading nutritional messages are common in the media. "People come across these myths or misleading information every day in popular media. We've asked students to explore companies' claims and present back on their findings."

Students Daniel Kahura and Hoani Smith took on the topic of the popular "Paleo Diet". The diet, which was made famous by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Pete Evans and New Zealand bachelor Art Green, encourages people to eat as if they were living in the Paleolithic period.

"It's a growing craze where you are encouraged to eat like a caveman," Kahura says. "You are told to eat a lot of meat, nuts, fish, fresh vegetables and seeds. If it flies, swims, walks or is green you can eat it."

One of the major issues with the diet, Kahura says, is the lack of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates fuel brain function, give you energy and make you happy.  "The Paleo diet tells you to eat very little or no carbohydrates to achieve optimal results. This is not healthy as carbohydrates are an essential part of any diet."

Smith adds there is not enough information available about the Paleolithic period to base a diet around it. "The Paleolithic period goes from 250 million years ago to 10,000 years BC. There were many advances during that time, such as tool making, and archaeologists cannot definitively say what people ate," Smith says. "There's a lot of differing information out there about the Paleo diet so it can be confusing for people."

Kahura and Smith also raised issues whether the diet would be sustainable long term due to the strictness of the diet and because it can be expensive and difficult to only eat organic products, as recommended.

Dr Kimber says some of the key messages in nutritional information were to check labels, read the small print and stay informed about product choices.​