The dash diet paleo primal fad-min

The DASH Diet

One of the things I liked so much when I started researching about Paleo, was the ease and simplicity. The books basically tell you to eat a simple diet, of the natural foods we've evolved to eat. I found there really was nothing confusing or contentious. As well as reading the Paleo and Evolutionary health books – I read everything else I could find on nutrition. There is a book for every fad diet imaginable, with completely conflicting and confusing advice. Some of the diets just seem downright complicated to follow and devoid of any logic.

One of the best selling diet books in Australia at the moment is about the “DASH Diet”, so I couldn't resist taking a look. I've noticed the newer fad diets seem to be more closely resembling Paleo, so I always hold out hope that books like this will be about Paleo, but with a different name.

DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” and is aimed at those suffering from High Blood Pressure, though it also has a significant focus on weight loss. I had high hopes when I picked up the book – but it quickly became apparent that the book is based on the flawed food pyramid. The plan recommends a diet high in fruit, low-fat dairy and whole grains. It also advises avoiding processed food and limiting (not eliminating) sugar.

While the DASH diet is based on studies, these studies only compared three different nutritional plans. Unfortunately they don’t give the specific meal plans for each of the diets in the study, just the macro nutrient profiles – and some of the micro nutrient profiles. From this it’s apparent the DASH diet had 10% less fat than the other diets (taken entirely as Saturated fat), with the 10% added onto the protein and carbohydrate consumed. Without knowing exactly what they ate, this is rather meaningless. Cheap, commercial chocolate is high in saturated fat – as is butter – they clearly aren't equal, yet this study doesn't allow us to differentiate.

The book is full of un-Paleo recommendations such as only eating whole-grain bread, avoiding coconut oil, trimming all visible fat off meat and only eating low-fat dairy.

I'm sure someone coming from a highly processed SAD diet would (initially) see benefits on a DASH diet – but only because they had cut out processed foods, sugars and therefore reduced their carbohydrate intake. It saddens me that unwell people follow this diet in good faith – when it isn't based on good science – and certainly doesn't seem optimal.

What do you make of the DASH diet and the other fad diets out there?

The dash diet paleo primal fad-min

What's so bad about soft drinks fizzy coke paleo not healthy-min

Another Nail in the Coffin for Soft Drinks?

It’s good to see yet another study on the detrimental effects of Soft Drinks.  This time a study from the University of Oklahoma compared two groups of women over a five year period.  One group in the 4,000 strong study consumed two or more sugary soft drinks, whilst the other group drank one or less.  The participants had their weight, waist size, cholesterol & triglyceride levels measured and compared over the course of the study.  The study concludes that woman drinking two or more soft drinks a day are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

What's so bad about soft drinks fizzy coke paleo not healthy-min

The study indicates that whilst the woman’s weight didn't necessarily increase on this soft drink regime, their risk of developing high triglycerides increased four-fold – therefore bodily fat doesn't appear to be the sole reason for the risk.

An observational study like this has far too many variables, yet it is still useful, especially if it leads to further (ideally clinical) studies.  It’s also useful if it makes those who consume soft drinks question their nutrition.   I think it likely a woman who consumes several soft drinks a day isn't likely to be following a healthy Paleo diet in every other aspect of her nutrition.  This makes it impossible to attribute the declining health of that group to their soft drink consumption alone.  I also have trouble with the category of “one of less” soft drinks, as I’d consider one soft drink a day to be very high use – especially where those drinks contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)!  I look forward to the full peer reviewed study which may address some of these points.

I think a lot of slim people consider themselves healthy and have an attitude that they can “get away” with a poor diet, including drinking regular soft drinks.  This study goes some way to challenge those views, and perhaps might help make people realise even though they may feel healthy today, they may be storing up problems for their future health.  I just hope studies like this don’t lead to diverted consumption of diet soft drinks, which in my opinion are often even more harmful.

What’s wrong with drinking water?

What do you think of observational studies like this?  Do you think they will they one day start to change nutrition en masse?

What's so bad about soft drinks fizzy coke paleo not healthy-min

Soft Drinks and Violence?

I was interested to hear about a study linking consumption of non-diet soft drinks with violence in teenagers.  The study found teenagers who drank soft drinks frequently were 9 – 15% more likely to engage in violent activities, than those who were not frequent drinkers.  Almost one in three pupils in the study group of 1,878 drank over five cans of soft drink a week. And if that's one in three, presumably many of the people in the study group must get the majority of their hydration from soft drinks.

What's so bad about soft drinks fizzy coke paleo not healthy-min

This was an observational study, so perhaps the ingredients in the soft drink caused the anti-social behaviour in those who consumed it;  or perhaps the anti-social behaviour lead to those teenagers drinking more soft drinks?

But surely with such a high correlation, it has to be beneficial to prevent soft drinks being so accessible to teens? Even more of a problem seems to be the prevalence of energy drinks that seem especially popular with young people. I'd love to see some studies into the effects of these chemically laden drinks.

Limit Soft Drinks?

Do you think teenagers should be given a free rein, or should soft drinks consumption be limited somehow?

Swapping Red Meat for Whole Grains newspaper health article healthy paleo diet

Swapping Red Meat for Whole Grains?

I found this enlightening little article in November’s “Good Health” magazine (I wish they’d be more accurate and add “not” before the magazine name). When will they get over their obsession with “Health Whole Grains”?

Red-Meat-Swap-swapping red meat for whole grains

The article tells us to “replace one serving of red meat a day with one serving of nuts, low-fat dairy or whole grains”, which apparently will significantly reduce your risk of developing type two diabetes.  This really misleading (and anti Paleo!); it makes it sound like replacing your organic, grass-fed steak with a few slices of carb-heavy whole grains will actually be a positive health move!  It’s becoming widely accepted that the blood sugar rise caused by carbohydrates causes the problem – not consumption of good quality red meat.

Looking into the actual study, it is apparent that processed AND unprocessed red meat have been put into the same category.  It’s no wonder processed meat, with all the additives and chemicals would have a detrimental effect on health.   Also, people who eat processed meats are, I would argue, are more likely to eat without concern for their health, with the rest of their diets.  Reading further, the study was not a clinical study, but an observational study, based on questionnaires over a 20-year period.  Unless a study is controlled, or subjects are monitored around the clock, how accurate are their survey responses anyway?

Swapping Red Meat for Whole Grains newspaper health article healthy paleo diet