TPV Podcast, Episode 184, The Misrepresentation of the Paleo Diet in the Media

February 26, 2016 in Categories: , by

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Ep. 184, The Misrepresentation of the Paleo Diet in the Media

On this episode of The Paleo View, Stacy and Sarah discuss a recent press release that sparked a fury of negative claims against the Paleo diet in the media – and share their thoughts on how we as a community should handle these misrepresentations of the Paleo diet.

The Paleo View TPV 184 Misrepresentation of Paleo Diet Media

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The Paleo View (TPV), Episode 184, The Misrepresentation of the Paleo Diet in the Media

  • Intro (0:00)
  • News and Views (1:18)
    • Sarah loves that the format of this podcast allows both her and Stacy to tackle current events as they are unfolding in the media
    • And just this week there was a frenzy of negativity on the Paleo diet that was first shared in Australian media, and the stories then reached global media channels
    • So for this week’s show Stacy and Sarah want to discuss the current media that is misrepresenting a scientific article and where that all came from, but to also discuss how Paleo tends to be very attacked in the media and how often we typically see critiques of the Paleo diet that completely misrepresent what the Paleo diet even is
    • Stacy is curious to see what the long-term buzz around this media will be
    • The first article that Sarah saw was from a British journal titled, “The Paleo diet is dangerous and increases weight-gain, diabetes expert claims”
    • So this prompted Sarah to look into the science behind this article that supported this claim and she found that there was no link to the original research, however, she found other media articles on the same topic that led her to the original study
      • Sarah shared the other sensationalized article titles
    • Sarah was eventually able to dig through all the articles to find the original, and the title was ‘A low carbohydrate, high-fat diet increases weight-gain and does not improve glucose tolerance, insulin secretion, or beta cell mass in New Zealand obese mice’
      • These mice were specifically developed in the last ten years to study diabetes
      • They are a highly susceptible mouse
    • How the study was structured and what the researchers analyzed from the results
    • What the study revealed
    • The rebuttal to the study that Sarah shared on her site HERE
    • The conclusions from the researches on their abstract essentially said, “a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet is unlikely to be of benefit for preventing the decline of beta cell function associated with hyperglycemia and type-2 diabetics”
      • Sarah’s takeaway was, ‘great – I too don’t agree with a ketogenic diet’
      • However, the press release likened the structure of the diet that was used in the study to Paleo, by specifically calling out celebrities and stating that their recommendations have no basis in scientific literature
      • Sarah gets worked up about this kind of critique of the Paleo diet because the study in no way represents the merits of a Paleo diet
      • How shady Stacy found the quote on celebrities to be
        • “Mass media hype around these diets, particularly driven by celebrity chefs, celebrity weight-loss stories in the tabloid media and reality TV shows are leading to more people trying fad diets backed by little evidence. In people with pre-diabetes or those with diabetes, the low-carb, high-fat diet could be particularly risky. Low-Carbohydrate, high-fat diets are becoming more popular, but there is no scientific evidence that these diets work. In fact, if you put an inactive individual on this type of diet the chances are that person will gain weight.” – this was said by the President of the Australian Diabetes Society
    • Where there is merit in this authors points, and where he exaggerates the details
    • The diet studied was structured around 81% calories from fat, 13% calories from protein, and 6% calories from carbohydrates
    • This diet is a ketogenic diet to a T, and you can find more on Sarah’s site here on the negative effects of a ketogenic diet
    • So first point, a ketogenic diet does not equal a Paleo diet
    • The other problems with the press release and where the details were exaggerated
    • Nothing in the study looked at the quality aspect of the foods endorsed by a Paleo diet
      • There are two other episodes that discuss the difference between nutrient quality of a Paleo diet versus the nutrient quality of a ketogenic diet, which you can find HERE and HERE
      • The ingredients of the diet used in this specific study and the questions surrounding the ingredients that were selected
    • Why is Paleo so consistently misrepresented in the media?
    • The level of frustration it gives Sarah to see science so grossly misrepresented in the media
    • The responses from the Paleo community that discredit the study because it is done in mice, and Sarah notes that this isn’t a fair critique of the study
      • Animal studies are incredibly well validated strategies for understanding human health
      • It is a bad habit to dismiss evidence that may contrast with our views
      • Recognize that we don’t have all the answers and be open to assimilating new information, even if it contrasts with previous studies
      • It is responsible of us to look at studies objectively
  • Sarah notes that it is important to think critically and that there is a way that we as a community can discourage such aggressive attacks by putting our support behind rebuttals, behind those who are being attacked, and commenting on these studies in a measured way
    • The best response is measured and logical
    • Definitely engage, but keep it mature and respectful – demonstrate just how much support this Paleo community really has
    • And when you see media articles like this, try not to take them personally
    • Stay true to what you know
  • Don’t forget to tell your friends, comment on show notes and social media, and please leave those reviews
  • Stacy also wants to thank those who came out to the event at the Organic Butcher
  • Outro (1:02:31)

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I just listened and had to comment about how awesome your attitude towards science is. I have a PhD in a humanities field and I wish more people in my field could take on the kind of open mindedness and perpetual learning that you talked about in this episode. Brava!

I did the same, I looked for the details and as soon as I saw what they fed the mice I moved on. Great Pod cast. Sarah you should hulk out more often!

Great podcast! As an Australian, it can be really difficult to not just dismiss these types of reports as it feels like they are pretty constant – especially the personal attacks on Pete Evens.
Again today a “Science” reporter on national radio (ABC – Australian version of PBS) spent the majority of his time attacking paleo and Pete Evans. This attack and the almost daily anti-paleo articles in the mainstream media always (deliberately in my opinion) misrepresent paleo and usually have a jab at Pete. As a result many in the Paleo community in Australia are simply tuning out and dismissing these articles.

You mentioned not understanding why Paleo gets beaten up the way it does. I think because it’s relatively new. Not new to us, but new in that it’s not common sense yet. The things we are doing are pretty cutting edge. People tend not to really believe things until it’s broadened out to mainstream culture, and they hear about it from sources they are used to trusting. Plus, there is a defensiveness with people who are not on a healthy diet. People love to make fun and disprove of gluten free; similar but different with Paleo. Then I’ve had conversations with people who think Paleo is “BS”, but they are basing that on very little understanding, or misunderstanding. But I’ve had an easier time explaining AIP, funnily enough, because I get to say quickly and easily, “It’s a science experiment on myself. I eliminate common inflammatory foods, and then reintroduce them, one by one.” People understand that, even though AIP is relatively very new, because, oh, that sounds like allergies, I get that – and because I’m saying right off, it’s science. If I could say something as concise and simple as “elimination-provocation” for Paleo like I can for AIP, (and that info is associated with something already accepted), I’m sure people would be more open minded. It’s like when certain groups of people decide how they are going to get a certain message out, deciding on the language. Eventually, one way or the other, as long as Paleo and AIP grows with emerging knowledge people will continue to be drawn in, for their own reasons, and when it becomes common knowledge you won’t have to defend it against misinformation.

Sarah, you wonder in this episode why people seem to have such an emotional resistance to paleo. I have thought about this a bunch, and I think it is an emotional reaction to the idea that they, themselves, may have to give up grains…subconsciously, they protect their addiction to grains and dairy by resisting the notion of giving them up. Remember how emotional the withdrawal from grains was? I certainly remember crying to myself that I would never enjoy food again (hilarious, now!), feeling very sorry for myself and being ravenously hungry. Likewise, if it comes up with someone that I don’t eat dairy, they tend to rush to, “I could never give up cheese!” as though anyone had suggested that they would have to. Making a statement about yourself and having a person react as though it is about her is a dead giveaway. Imagine saying to someone, “I just got a new blue dress.” and the response being: “Oh, I would never wear blue!”

As a nutritionist, I can’t tell you how many times I have been told, “Oh, I don’t have a problem with gluten.” Coming to the defense of our addiction is a kind of visceral self-defense.

Yes, I am WAY behind on my podcast listening…sorry to be commenting so far behind.

I am a Marne biologist/ biology teacher. I have an MS degree. I love what you gals are trying to set right here. It IS hard to not take misinterpretations personally when the world needs to change their diet and you spend so much time trying to educate. Secondly, to answer your questions- I think the general public believes carbs to be anything white on your plate- they grow up thinking the meat has to be accompanied with a ” carb” and a veg. The carb is grain. I think when people write zero carb, they mean zero grain. Secondly, I think people want to prove Paleo “wrong” because it has been engrained in us that fat and cholesterol is bad. Therefore, vegans are OK bc they follow that idea. It is taking a long time for Paleo to seem “right” bc it is such a dogma to overcome. Keep on Sciencing the Hell out of Paleo and the world will eventually get it!!

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