Why going RAW or PALEO may not always be the best answer.
So it seems that there has been a rather dramatic shift that has occurred particularly in places like Australia and the US where the general population is more concerned about eating healthily than ever before. There are raw and paleo cafes and restaurants opening up on every street corner, television shows like the Paleo way and Good Chef Bad Chef that are being targeted at a mainstream audience.
There is some great content on these shows and I am pleased to see that the general population is interested in eating healthy, wholesome, organic and home cooked meals instead of buying packaged frozen meals or opting for high fat, high kilojoule, low nutrient fast foods.
I also am fully on board with the idea of having organic and grass fed butter and beef and eating fermented vegetables as seen on Pete Evans’ The Paleo Way, however one thing that concerns me about the paleo and raw food diets is that they both include a large volume of nuts which are almost becoming their own separate food group !!
There seems to be a huge increase in the consumption of nut milks, nut butters, nut flours and nuts in general as a subsitute for dairy and grains.Now please don’t get me wrong I am not a fan of dairy nor gluten, however I think that it is ok to include grains such as rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet and amaranth (gluten free grains) which is where I deviate from the Paleo philosophy.
I attended a raw food demonstration a few years back and couldn’t believe the quantity of nuts that pretty much every recipe called for. I myself know that I can’t eat too many of them. The fact that nuts are found in nature with an often hard to crack shell suggests in itself that we aren’t meant to be eating too many of them. They can be difficult to digest particularly if they haven’t been soaked or activated before hand which means if they are eaten in excess they too can pose thier own adverse health consequences.
In my opinion nuts can be just as inflammatory as gluten containing grains and dairy as they are high in Omega 6’s which if eaten in excess can become pro-inflammatory. So the simple answer is that yes it is ok to eat nuts in their raw, unsalted and activated form but only in moderation ie a handful of nuts per day.
I always encourage my clients to favour the Omega 3’s over the 6’s as these aren’t consumed as readily. Omega 3’s are found in oily fish such as salmon however it is preferrable to opt for smaller oily fish such as sardines and anchovies as the larger fish will have a higher mercury content. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog which will discuss fish oils in more detail.
Though before I sign off another point that I would like to raise about the Raw Food diet in particular is that in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the digestive system becomes weakened by cold and raw foods and instead prefers foods that are warm. This is particularly important in the winter time where intuitively most people prefer warm beverages and cooked meals over cold juices, smoothies and salads. As we head into a Brisbane summer however the digestive system can deal with cooler foods a little more easily though it is important that drinks are not overly cold or iced.