There is no one diet that can suit everybody.
That’s the belief of Stephanie Karl, nutritionist, JTS Medical Centre, Dubai. With diets, she says, you have to take it step by step. No diet, she believes, can be recommended as a prescription for the rest of your life.
“If we look at the science of food, foods high in antioxidants are meant to be good for us, cleanse the liver and help the processing of your pathways. But high dosage of antioxidants can also built up chemicals and cause other issues. That’s why there can be, optimally, no top 10 foods list for a normal healthy person,” she says.
She personally eats a fairly Paleo type of diet, but adds a bit of yoghurt for a little variation.
“People seem to like the Paleo Diet, but I tend to think it is bit restricted,” she says. “The more you restrict a person’s diet, the worse their eating can become.” Plus, diets have this amazing knack of turning faddish, she says.
The human body, she believes, is not programmed to only eat meat. “We can eat across all food groups,” she says. “We are not like carnivores that have enzymes only for digesting meat, or herbivores that ruminate and have two stomachs.” Our bodies can break down the starches.
The Paleo, however, is not suitable for children as they need more carbohydrates for growth and energy. “But as we grow into adulthood, we do not need energy from starches. Any plant-based diet can provide us a lot of carbohydrates.”
For a diet to be considered good, she says, you have to see if its anti-inflammatory, manages blood sugar better and keeps you leaner and stronger. “You want to know if it is keeping you healthy, giving you good blood-lipid ratios, managing the insulin and helping you feel alert and perform better.’
Speaking about the prohibition of grains in Paleo, Stephanie says wheat has been overmodified over the years. “It increases the burden on the body to break it down. Food manufacturers have been clever with things like corn, soy and wheat and have infiltrated into so many processed foods.” If anyone has allergies it is best to eliminate casein (a protein found in milk), dairy and wheat, she advises.
The Paleo Diet is primarily a Western way of eating and thus will not fit in all cultural groups, in her view.