Low Carb ... Paleo ... Good? Bad?

Probably like me, you have heard of Low Carb and Paleo diets. Maybe a friend or family member is following one of them. Maybe you are modifying your own eating habits after hearing of the possible health benefits of these diets. Food companies, grocery stores and restaurants are promoting new foods and dishes to appeal to low carb and paleo dieters. On their covers, magazines promote articles that support the appealing benefits of these diets - better health, weight loss and eating “closer to the earth.” I have even seen gadgets advertised to turn fresh vegetables and fruits into noodles! (Wheat noodles being a no-no for low carb or paleo eaters.)

What is all the fuss about? What is the appeal? As a librarian, with the public culture focus on low carb and paleo diets, I am often asked for more information and I definitely see a lot of books published on the diets and recipes for dishes that follow the diets’ requirements. I will share some titles below.

In depth explanations are beyond the scope of this brief blog post, but both diets focus on the way people ate before the development of agriculture and cities. The idea is that the diets of many modern people are very different than what our bodies were made to process. Both diets stress eating vegetables and protein rich foods and the need for fat in our body systems.

Low carb diets (including the Aikens and South Beach diets) focus on the avoidance of sugar in our foods, including bread, pasta and potatoes, that quickly breaks down as sugars in our bodies. Their appeal is the possible benefits of quicker weight loss and the avoidance of insulin spikes as our bodies process food. Both benefits may help those with type 2 diabetes or those at risk of developing the disease. This webpage, while not from a medical resource website, does a good job of briefly explaining the diet:

A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan and Menu That Can Save Your Life

Paleo diets stress eating closer to the earth, meaning minimally processed foods that our bodies were designed to eat - meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, natural oils, nuts and seeds. The health benefits come from following an eating regime aligned with our bodies’ design and development. Here is another webpage from the same site above that briefly explains this diet:

A Paleo Diet Meal Plan and Menu That Can Save Your Life

If you want more information, the Mercer County Library System has books that discuss the diet regimes in far greater depth. All of these titles are popular choices:

Living Low Carb: Controlled-carbohydrate Eating for Long-term Weight Loss by Jonny Bowden
Living Low Carb: Controlled-carbohydrate Eating for Long-term Weight Loss by Jonny Bowden

The Carb Sensitivity Program: Discover Which Carbs Will Curb Your Cravings, Control Your Appetite, and Banish Belly Fat by Dr. Natasha Turner

The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat by Loren Cordain

Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life by Nora T. Gedgaudas

If you are looking for recipes, the library system also has many cookbooks to choice from, including:

The Low-carb Cookbook: The Complete Guide to the Healthy Low-carbohydrate Lifestyle: With Over 100 Delicious Recipes, Everything You Need to Know about Stocking the Pantry, and Sources for the Best Prepared Foods and Ingredients by Frances Monson McCullough
The Low-carb Cookbook: The Complete Guide to the Healthy Low-carbohydrate Lifestyle: With Over 100 Delicious Recipes, Everything You Need to Know about Stocking the Pantry, and Sources for the Best Prepared Foods and Ingredients by Frances Monson McCullough

The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook: 200 Simple and Delicious Low-carb Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less by Colette Heimowitz

The Everyday Low-carb Slow Cooker Cookbook: Over 120 Delicious Low-carb Recipes that Cook Themselves by Kitty Broihier and Kimberly Mayone

The Essential Eating Well Cookbook: Good Carbs, Good Fats, Great Flavors by Patricia Jamieson

The Primal Blueprint Cookbook by Mark Sisson

Paleo for Every Day: 4 Weeks of Paleo Diet Recipes & Meal Plans to Lose Weight & Improve Health by the Editors of Rockridge Press.

Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans by Michelle Tom and Henry Wong
Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans by Michelle Tom and Henry Wong

Make It Paleo: Over 200 Grain-free Recipes for Any Occasion by Bill Staley and Haley Mason

While the popularity of these diets cannot be doubted, and they have the support of some doctors and dieticians who believe in their benefits, they are not without controversy. Most medical and nutritional organizations oppose or cautiously support these diets for long term health. Many experts see these types of diets as fads.

The library system also has books that cover the controversies:

The Low-carb Fraud by T. Colin Campbell

Grain of Truth: The Real Case For and Against Wheat and Gluten by Stephen H. Yafa
Grain of Truth: The Real Case For and Against Wheat and Gluten by Stephen H. Yafa

There is a lot of information and a lot of advice out there! A reference librarian at any of our branches can help you find reliable information from our library databases and trusted websites. Please ask! Of course, if you are considering important changes in your diet and eating habits, as important as it is to be well informed yourself, ask the advice of a trusted medical professional.

-Kim Luke, Hightstown Branch

Comments

  1. Excellent article over again. Thanks:)

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