Hot Diets: Gluten-Free and Paleo

vegtablesfruitgrainsMore popular than ever, the gluten-free diet has been building momentum making it possibly the hottest diet trend of 2014.  The gluten-free diet has outgrown its Celiac roots and been embraced by the everyday consumer. Best-selling books like Wheat-Belly and encouragement from popular television celebrities like Dr. Oz have propelled the term ‘gluten-free’ into everyday, kitchen-table vocabulary. Even Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day cleanse last summer included eliminating gluten.

Marketers estimate that about 25% of consumers want gluten-free items, while only 1% of the population is thought to have Celiac disease. Yet gluten-free continues to grow in popularity. It may be due to a growing number of people discovering they have a level of gluten-sensitivity/intolerance propelling them to embrace a gluten-free diet.

Eating a gluten-free diet has its benefits and pitfalls. Since gluten is added to many processed foods, eating a gluten-free diet encourages the consumption of more fresh whole foods, while reducing the consumption of processed and packaged foods. This is a healthy option as processed foods have unhealthy levels of sodium, and saturated and trans fats. You can avoid nutritional pitfalls in a gluten-free diet by focusing on eating foods that provide fiber, vitamins and minerals such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans. For more articles about gluten-free issues, click here.

The Paleo Diet topped the list of most Googled diets of 2013 suggesting it is another of the hottest diets today. The Paleo diet (short for Palaeolithic) is based upon the concept that an optimal diet is one to which the creators of the diet believe we are genetically adapted too. The Paleo diet encourages a diet focused on grass-produced meats, fish/seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds and healthy oils, meanwhile avoiding cereal grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt and refined vegetables oils.

Here at myWholeLife, we’re always staying on top of the latest research as we want you to stay informed. This month, two interesting research papers were published that shed more light on Paleo and high protein diets. Results from a two year randomized trial on the effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women were published. The results suggest that a Palaeolithic-type diet may have beneficial effects on body fat mass, abdominal obesity and triglyceride levels in obese postmenopausal women.

Yet another study, published in Cell Metabolism, compared dietary data from 6381 men and women, aged 50 and older from the NHANES III (a national dietary survey in the United States), with mouse and cellular studies hoping to understand how the level and source of protein in the diet affected aging, disease and mortality. The researchers concluded that high protein intake increased cancer death risk four-fold in adults aged 50-65, meanwhile risk decreased in those over 65.

Fascinating! Why would a high fat diet become helpful in older age? Its suggested that a high protein diet may prevent weight loss and frailty, which are common problems for the elderly. Both studies have strengths and weaknesses, leaving it best to caution drawing any conclusions about high protein diets until more is known. And, of course, you’ll be able to find the latest research here at myWholeLife.

*According to the National Institute of Aging the average of menopause is 51.

References:

Mellberg, C. et al. Long-term effects of Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women: a 2-year randomized trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 68, 350-357 (March 2014) doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.290

Gerlic, M. et al. Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population. Cell Metabolism, Volume 19, Issue 3, 407-417, 4 March 2014.