19 Apr Kelloggs Fruit Loops vs. The Paleo Diet
Resistance of a Paleo Diet
I recently attended a National symposium for physicians in the field of Sports Medicine. While a variety of presentations were offered, one of particular interest to me focused on “Nutrition for the Athlete” and was led by a Registered Dietitian who specialized in Sports Nutrition. The speaker had my complete attention as she discussed the importance of vitamin D and Omega 3s and discouraged high fiber grains, legumes, and sugary energy drinks around workouts. To my surprise, this speaker was (unknowingly) presenting fundamental concepts of a Paleo Diet and lifestyle! However, upon directly asking her thoughts on Paleo, the dietician adamantly insisted that this “unmaintainable” diet lacked the essential nutrients required for optimal health.
“…the USDA (which funds many of the country’s nutritional programs) is much more interested in the success of the Food Industry than the health of the US citizens…”
Although a well-educated speaker; I wasn’t surprised by the dietician’s ignorant response. After all, she was only repeating information obtained at a University where students entering the field of Nutrition are hammered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines (as were my wife and I were). Unfortunately, the USDA (which funds many of the country’s nutritional programs) is much more interested in the success of the Food Industry than the health of the US citizens (which would explain why things like corn and wheat are encouraged while little time is spent teaching the importance of grass fed meat and local organic produce). While I understand why so many educated health professionals have a hard time accepting the Paleo Lifestyle, I also believe that as professionals there comes a time when we should consider what we have been taught, then use common sense to pilfer through the garbage and ensure that we are passing on the most effective information to our patients and the general public.
For example, when considering the necessity of grains in our diet, common sense should allow us to decipher the importance of this food group for the average American. The primary role of grains (and carbohydrates in general) is to provide energy and fiber. While athletes and active individuals require more carbohydrates than the average person, it’s safe to assume (judging by obesity rates) that most individuals don’t need the amount of carbohydrates that has become the norm.
Kelloggs vs. The Paleo Diet
For those concerned about consuming high quality carbohydrates, a Paleo diet does promote fruits, vegetables, and nuts/seeds; which all contain plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Take raspberries for example; 1 cup of these berries offers 64 calories, 15 grams of carbs, 8 grams of fiber and a healthy dose of Vitamin C. Compare this to a standard slice of wheat bread and the bread falls short with about 80 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, and 1-3 grams of fiber (and sometimes trace vitamins/minerals). Granted, there are those bread varieties that come close to matching the fiber content in fruit however upon reviewing the ingredients in these products you’ll often find things like inulin, wheat fiber, and cellulose fiber; which are all added to increase the product’s total fiber content.
The truth about grains is the vast majority on the market are actually enriched and/or fortified to boost the nutritional integrity of these foods. In other words, that colorful box of Fruit Loops on the store shelf isn’t naturally high in those vitamins that are so proudly displayed on the label. In fact, if you visit the website of Kellogg’s cereal, you’ll read the company’s claim that “Your very best starts with a diet enriched by a variety of vitamins and minerals; cereal plays a very important part in providing these nutrients…. By fortifying our cereal with nutrients, we can better help you meet the daily dietary recommendations of these vitamins and minerals.”
Does anybody else see the issue with this? Our top nutritional experts are telling us that we need these items in our diets, yet the only reason these foods have most of the vitamins and minerals that they boast is because we put them there. Instead of consuming Kellogg’s Fruit Loops to obtain essential vitamins, the Paleo lifestyle suggests obtaining them from their natural sources of meats, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and eggs.
When it comes to nutritional gaps in the Paleo diet, I believe these are completely avoidable. You see, one of the best aspects of this diet is the flexibility. For active individuals who need more carbs; sweet potatoes, winter squash, and fruit all provide ample carbohydrates as well as natural sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. I also recommend a quality multi-vitamin to fill in any possible gaps (especially for athletes). I’d certainly rather use daily vitamin to fill any nutritional gaps than rely on a bowl of processed, sugar loaded cereal!