Beyond the paleo: new trendy diets from science

The paleo diet is coming under increasing scrutiny from the science and health community, resulting in criticisms and questions about its validity. But people will always want trendy diets, and there are plenty of periods in science history to arbitrarily base an eating regime around

Paleo Diets21 Jun 2014 --- Ingredients for a wok dish with red rice
The paleo diet may not be as healthy as it seems, but there are plenty of other periods in history to arbitrarily base an eating regime around. Photograph: Eva Gr ndemann/Eva Gr ndemann/Westend61/Corbis

The paleo diet has come under fire recently, after a cook book based on it by an Australian chef was believed to feature recipes that were potentially very harmful to children.

However this case pans out, it’s cast an unfavourable light on the paelo diet. But trendy diets will always be popular, and some of them even seem to work. Most dieticians and healthcare professionals will agree that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and vitamins is generally a good thing, but it’s also boring. What you need for a really good diet is to dress it up in more impressive but mysterious scientific trappings, preferably with some basis deep in the past, because all the unhealthy things that make us fat like junk food, refined sugars and sitting down are all modern inventions.

Nobody in the past ever ate fried foods, sugary drinks or sat down at all, and look how healthy they were. They lived long, healthy lives except when they didn’t.

So for a good diet, you need some vague understanding of the science of eating and digestion, and to apply it to some arbitrary point in the past which is automatically better because it’s not the present where the unhealthy things are. Don’t let actual evidence and logic or anything with any substance stand in your way; substance is fattening, and that’s not healthy. So here are some possible replacements for the paleo diet

The primordio diet

Big Bang Cosmos Explosion Space Starburst
Mmm, delicious. Photograph: ACE STOCK LIMITED / Alamy/Alamy

Why stop at the Paleolithic era? Maybe the standard of health was better back then than it is now (shut up, it was!) but using that logic then the further back we go, the better health will be, until we reach the very beginning; theprimordial era. All of life originates from the primordial era, where the universe was “born”, so this is the point where things were most pure, before being sullied and polluted by the creeping influence of entropy and calories.

You too can obtain the fresh, energetic and healthy effects of our deepest past by following the Primordio diet, eating foods based on what was available at a time when the universe was still fresh and new, rather than bloated like it is now.

As part of the primordio diet, you cut out all processed foods, meat, plant material and basically anything that has in any way been derived from a living organism at some point. Or from rocks. Anything with molecules in it is right out.

Your main meal on the primordio diet is a rich concoction of plasma, gluons, radiation and residual energy from the big bang. A hearty bowl of this “primordial soup” will provide all the energy you need for the day/trillions of years ahead. And if you feel peckish, feel free to indulge in some simple gasses. You’ve got to treat yourself occasionally, after all.

The Ordovician diet

The reconstruction of a filter-feeding Aegirocassis benmoulae from the Ordovician Period feeding on a plankton cloud is shown in this artist rendering released to Reuters on March 10, 2015.
Carefully follow this diet and you too could end up with a body like this. Photograph: Marianne Collins/REUTERS

Everyone knows swimming is the best exercise. What more proof do you need that life was better when we all lived in the sea? Since we crawled out onto landit’s been one health disaster after another. Solid ground means you can lie down, whereas in the water you need to be constantly on the move to keep from drowning or sinking, so you get much more exercise. Also, sharks never get ill. Shut up, they don’t!

Sadly, we can’t go and live in the sea again, but you can do the next best thing and follow the Ordovician diet. Cut out all foods based on complex cells and land-based life, and subsist on a diet of simple plankton, sieved from the water using your fronds or dedicated filters. You can also pick over the decaying remains of other primitive life forms who have happened to die nearby, or for more quick energy, ingest the warming sulphuric emissions from a volcanichydrothermal vent. Who said smoking was unhealthy, eh?

The Jurassic diet

This image released by Boneau/Bryan-Brown shows a lifelike dinosaur, part of the
The Jurassic diet will bring out your healthier, fitter, mindlessly-carnivorous side. Photograph: Patrick Murphy/AP

Everyone loves dinosaurs. And so they should; dinosaurs lasted for nearly 200 million years, about 1000 times longer than man has currently been around. If mankind keeps up its unhealthy, it won’t come close to lasting that long.

Obviously, dinosaurs were much healthier than we are and maintained much healthier lifestyles; nothing keeps you fit and strong like constantly running for your life from multi-ton predators. That’s sure to keep the pounds off and your blood moving, even if it is cold.

They say the first bite is with the eye, but with the Jurassic diet it’s important to keep your eye on the bite. What you eat is important, but so is how you eat it. Never mind the pointless trappings of modern eating, all they do is encourage sedentary behaviour and overindulgence. On the Jurassic diet you’re allowed to eat any natural foods you like. You like leaves? Eat as many leaves as you want, but you have to rip them from the trees with your powerful teeth and extremely long neck, before swallowing them and deriving energy from them via yourcavernous and complex digestive system. Feel free to indulge in some stones and other inert matter to help churn up this low-energy fodder.

You can also have meat, as long as it’s some form of primitive, rodent-like mammal, but you have to hunt it and kill it yourself, tearing out its innards with your long sharp teeth.

Remember to avoid all gluten and asteroids.

The childhood diet

Open Lunch box
Who better than children to instinctively understand a balanced diet? Photograph: D. Hurst / Alamy/Alamy

When were you at your healthiest? When you were a child! You weighed much less than you do now, and you had boundless energy, and you weren’t worried about job loss or mortgages or your star sign or anything. Children are clearly much healthier overall, and it’s only the onset of adulthood where we can buy fatty foods and alcohol that our health starts to decline and we get out of shape.

You never see a child eating unhealthy things do you? No, you don’t. Left to their own devices, a child would readily knock up a salad or pan of broccoli if they were allowed to use kitchen tools or could reach the stove.

Why not return to this healthy state? Let your “inner child” guide your diet by eating whatever it was you ate as a child. You should still give me money if you do this though, because it was my idea.

Dean Burnett

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