Paleo or Plant Based Diet?


I attended a seminar last week comparing paleo and plant based diets. Visiting international speaker and Canadian dietitian Brenda Davis, author of more than 8 books on nutrition presented the latest research by nutritional anthropologists on the Paleo Diet, including some surprising findings.


“Paleo” advocates place a huge emphasis on eating meat, and the “Modern Paleo” diet is different to the “True Paleo” diet as eaten by our hunter gatherer ancestors.


Key findings presented were as follows:

  • The “True Paleo” diet is much higher in key vitamins – Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamins A, C, E and minerals – iron, zinc, calcium, sodium than the “Modern Paleo” diet.

  • The “True Paleo” diet has about half the amount of fat than the “Modern Paleo” diet.’

  • The “True Paleo” diet has about 6-12% saturated fat vs the “Modern Paleo” diet which has about 19% saturated fat.

  • The “True Paleo” diet has about 3 times more fibre than the “Modern Paleo” diet.


WHY THE DIFFERENCES?

Because the meat and vegetables consumed today bear little resemblance to those eaten by pre-agricultural population.


Wild Meat vs Domestic

  • Lower in fat

  • Lower in saturated fat and higher in omega-3 fatty acids

  • Free of hormones, antibiotics, and in paleolithic times of environmental contaminants.


Wild vs Domestic Plants

  • Cultivated vegetables and fruits have been bred for palatability, transportability, and digestibility. Wild plants deliver over triple the fibre of commercial plants.


Nutritional Negatives of the “Modern Paleo” diet

  • Meat centred – high fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and chemical contaminants.

  • Excludes legumes and grains – rich sources of macronutrients, micronutrients, phytochemicals and fibre.


Population Pressures

  • During the Paleolithic period the human population grew from an estimated one half million people to about 6 million people. Today there are 7.5 billion people on the planet. We would need a planet the size of Jupiter if we were all hunter-gatherers.


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