SUNDAY PALEO / March 18, 2012

Hidden sugar in children's diet

It’s should be no surprise that the typical diet consumed by American children contains hidden sugar and soda is suspected to be the major culprit. Now evidence shows that most of the sugar our kids eat is in processed foods, although soda is not far behind:

The data from the National Center for Health Statistics, released Wednesday, show 59% of added-sugar calories come from foods and 41% from beverages. But soft drinks are still the biggest single source of added sugars in children's diets.

Let’s jump to a study on Alzheimer’s disease published last year - another in the growing list of studies showing that Paleo nutrition beats typical nutrition hands down:

In this paper, we highlight how an excess of dietary carbohydrates, particularly fructose, alongside a relative deficiency in dietary fats and cholesterol, may lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

If soda is still a part of your or your children’s diet, take a look at 5 additional reasons to ditch soda published by NMSBC.


Red meat consumption in the news

It been a big news week for red meat. Researchers of a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found an association between red meat consumption and “total, CVD (cerebrovascular disease), and cancer mortality.” In a guest post on Mark’s Daily Apple, “study-dismantler” Denise Minger provides a detailed critique of the study and finds it to be:

… garden-variety observational study, not an actual experiment where people change something specific they’re doing and thus make it possible to determine cause and effect.

Notice that one of the foods listed under “unprocessed red meat”—and likely a major contributor to that category—is hamburger, the stuff fast-food dreams are made of. Although this study tracked whole grain intake, it didn’t track refined grain intake, so we know right away we can’t totally account for the white-flour buns wrapped around those burgers (or many of the other barely-qualifying-as-food components of a McDonald’s meal). And unless these cohorts were chock full of folks who deliberately sought out decent organic meat, it’s also worth noting that the unprocessed ground beef they were eating probably contained that delightful ammonia-treated pink slime that’s had conventional meat consumers in an uproar lately.

Now, here's the real surprise and disappointment of the study. Minger points out that  “… all of the diet data came from a series of food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) that the study participants filled out once every four years.” Yes, you read it correctly: every four years! Minger observes: “most folks can barely remember what they ate yesterday, much less what they’ve eaten over the past month or even the past year.” Minger continues:

…researchers found that a single daily serving of unprocessed red meat was associated with a 13% increased risk of death from all causes, while a single serving of processed red meat—the equivalent of one hotdog—was associated with a 20% increased risk.

Let’s put this into prespective. Someone you know is overweight, most likely from eating plenty of refined carbohydrates and processed foods. They are now going to forgo an occasional steak and will likely stick with refined carbs. Let’s look at the risks of this approach.

In a study of 8,534 identical and fraternal twins, those overweight in middle-age were 70% more likely to have Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia. According to the study:

...just being overweight—with a BMI of 25 or above—in middle age might also significantly increase the odds that a person develops dementia later in life.

We are not talking 13%. We’re talking 70%.


Introduction to Paleo nutrition

Jack Challem, author and personal nutrition coach, has written a concise and sensible review on the basics of Paleo nutrition. Here is the introduction to his article:

The idea that modern-day people might benefit from ancient eating habits has been debated for decades. But it wasn’t until 1985 that the potential benefits of the Paleolithic diet gained scientific legitimacy with an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. The lead author, S. Boyd Eaton, M.D., of Emory University, made the argument that human genes coevolved with their nutritional milieu over many thousands of years, with our genes and biochemistry becoming dependent on the nutrients in fresh, whole foods. Loren Cordain, Ph.D., of Colorado State University, has also popularized the ancient diet with his book, The Paleo Diet, and numerous scientific articles.


Georgia Pellegrini hunts for food

Already on a modern approximation of the Paleolithic diet and ready to hunt for your own food? Grist has an interview with Georgia Pellegrini, the author of Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time. Among Georgia’s responses:

People tell me, “I don’t think I could do it.” The good news is that you don’t have to. But if you want to feel what it is to be human again, you should hunt, even if just once. Because that understanding, I believe, will propel a shift in how we view and interact with this world we eat in. And the kind of food we demand, as omnivores, will never be the same.

[Since I started hunting], I decided that if I was going to be a meat eater, I really wanted to internalize what it means to be an omnivore. And I really do, it’s emotional, spiritual, intense. And I’ve become a more conscious eater, a more awake human being.


Grass-fed beef

Most of us are not ready, or inclined, to hunt for our own food.  (Can you imagine if we all tried!)  However, we do want greater access to grass-fed beef.  Frank Stronach is pursuing the goal of “turning grass-fed beef back into a mass-market product.” According to the recent article in Grist:

Stronach is buying up land outside of Ocala, Fla., at a furious pace — 70,000 acres and counting. His plan: to create a massive ranch with “30,000 cattle, a 61,000-sq.-foot abattoir that would slaughter up to 300 cows a day, and a biomass power plant that would extract methane from manure.

In addition to selling beef from his Adena Springs ranch to grocery stores in Florida, “Stronach hopes to expand the business across the United States and Canada.” Grist observes:

Grass-fed is promoted as a more humane way of raising beef because it’s centered in pastures, not in feedlots. It also offers more protein than corn-fed beef, although its environmental benefits are still up for debate.


Beacon Food Forest in Seattle

If you live in a community with farmers markets or urban gardens, you can easily find locally grown food. Seattle is taking things a step further and developing a “food forest.” In Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood, on “seven sloping acres of hillside in Jefferson Park,” developers are planning “the nation's largest free and open edible landscape.” Among its features, Beacon Food Forest will include:

… an entire acre will feature large chestnuts and walnuts in the overstory, full-sized fruit trees like big apples and mulberries in the understory, and berry shrubs, climbing vines, herbaceous plants, and vegetables closer to the ground.

… an edible arboretum full of exotic looking persimmons, mulberries, Asian pears, and Chinese haws will surround a sheltered classroom for community workshops.


Making better selections at the grocery store

Of course, most of us still purchase much of our food in stores. Sarah Fragoso of Everyday Paleo provides advice on Recommended Food Suppliers and Brands:

I get quite a few emails and Facebook questions regarding things like, “Where do I find grass fed meat in my area?” or, “What brand of coconut oil or coconut milk do you recommend?” To save me some time answering each question individually, hopefully this post will answer a bunch of your questions all at once and fill in some gaps for a few of you new to this whole paleo thing.


Ready to cook?

You’ve procured your food - whether hunted, or from a ranch, urban farm, food forest, or nearby store - and are ready to cook. You’re in luck. Hayley Mason and Bill Staley, authors of the blog The Food Lovers Primal Palate, have just launched a new Paleo recipe site – The Food Lovers Kitchen.

This website is one big step towards providing you with a highly functional and interactive Paleo website. We’ve built some great features into this website to make it more useful and functional for day to day use.

We’ve built The Food Lovers Kitchen to incorporate all the features you’ve come to love about The Food Lovers Primal Palate over the last two years. We’ll still be blogging here on the new site, with new recipes each week.