pri­mal in­stinct

It’s the lat­est trend in di­ets, with claims go­ing pri­mal can quash al­ler­gies and clear up skin. But is it a health break­through or just a buzzy fad?

ELLE (Australia) - - Contents -

Pa­leo gets a 2017 up­date – but is the diet re­ally all it’s cracked up to be?

If you want to brush up on the lat­est It-di­ets, just do Sun­day brunch at a cafe in Bondi and perk up your ears. Among the anec­dotes of night-be­fore es­capades and tales of re­cent binge-watch­ing be­hav­iour, you’ll hear de­tails of eat­ing habits rat­tled off like pub pun­ters dis­cussing game-day high­lights. Gluten-free, ve­gan, pa­leo and sugar-free are reg­u­lars, but now there’s a new player in the line-up: pri­mal.

A quick Google search re­veals that pri­mal refers to eat­ing like our an­ces­tors – so is it just pa­leo in 2017 cloth­ing? They both cut out pro­cessed foods and al­low only wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat, how­ever with pri­mal, ori­gin car­ries even more weight. “Both are based on the same prin­ci­ples of start­ing from an an­ces­tral per­spec­tive and us­ing mod­ern science to fig­ure out how to max­imise nu­tri­ents and min­imise tox­ins in the body,” ex­plains Shan­non Young, nu­tri­tion­ist for cafe chain and food-de­liv­ery service Thr1ve. But she says the sub­tle vari­ances make a big dif­fer­ence. Case in point: grains. “Some peo­ple on pri­mal di­ets eat sprouted grains such as soaked sour­doughs, which are pro­duced to keep all the nat­u­ral com­pounds, fi­bre and good bac­te­ria.” Quinoa is also ac­cept­able among pri­mal fans yet shunned by pa­leo eaters. “Tech­ni­cally not a grain but a rel­a­tive of green leafy veg­eta­bles, quinoa is a com­plete pro­tein that of­fers all nine es­sen­tial amino acids,” says Young. Night­shade fruits and veg­eta­bles (such as pota­toes, egg­plant and toma­toes) are also ac­cept­able, as are some forms of dairy, par­tic­u­larly raw milk (see right). While many credit it as a dress-size shifter, the ben­e­fits of a pri­mal diet can go be­yond help­ing you look bet­ter in leggings – some­thing Kristin Canty learned after doc­tors des­tined her highly al­ler­gic son Char­lie to life as a “bub­ble boy”. “By the time he was two, he was al­ler­gic to grass, every type of an­i­mal and bee – he just could never go out,” she says. With medicines in­ef­fec­tive, the Us-based mother found stud­ies link­ing raw (aka un­pas­teurised) milk con­sump­tion to al­lergy re­duc­tion. De­spite the milk’s con­tro­ver­sial na­ture, Canty tried it. “I drank a tonne of it first and, after it made me feel amaz­ing, I gave it to my son a lit­tle at a time un­til it was just our [reg­u­lar] milk.” The re­sult? Canty says Char­lie is al­lergy-free. Now run­ning her own pri­mal restau­rant, Woods Hill Ta­ble, Canty is so com­mit­ted to the cause she also pro­duced Far­maged­don, a doc­u­men­tary on the sub­ject. “At screen­ings of the film or every day at the restau­rant, peo­ple say they’ve been healed by buy­ing meat, fish and veg­eta­bles di­rectly from farms, the pri­mal-diet way,” she says. To any­one feel­ing con­fused by all the diet op­tions, Canty sug­gests shift­ing your mind­set. “Be cre­ative. Rather than de­cid­ing what you want to eat and go­ing out to get it, see what food is in sea­son, get it from the source and make some­thing out of those in­gre­di­ents.” As for Young, she pro­motes a diet-fluid ap­proach, es­pe­cially when it comes to dairy. “At Thr1ve, we’re al­ways re­search­ing and adapt­ing, so at the mo­ment we’re tak­ing some points from the Mediter­ranean diet, some points from the high-fat ke­to­genic diet and some points from pri­mal,” she says. “Weigh up the pros and cons of a diet and do what is right for you.”

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