“There's a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead”
Pete Evans. Photo via popsugar.com.au
On Wednesday, Time reported that Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans would delay the release of his new book, a paleo diet guide for babies, out of concern that some recipes could be harmful, or even fatal to children. The so-called “Paleolithic diet,” which has become immensely popular over the last decade, attempts to mimic the “purer” food habits of our pre-agriculture, hunter-gatherer ancestors, who proponents of the diet mistakenly believe to have eaten no grains, legumes or dairy. Evans, who has in the past claimed that modern foods cause autism and expressed concern over fluoridated water, co-wrote the new book, called Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way For New Mums, Babies and Toddlers with writer Charlotte Carr and naturopath Helen Padarin.
The focus of the furor over the release is a DIY replacement for baby formula made of liver and bone broth. According to Time, which picked up the story from Australian Women’s Weekly, “Health experts have slammed the formula, which contains no milk products, saying it could seriously harm a child’s development.” The formula contains more than 10 times the amount of vitamin A recommended for babies, and doctors have warned that feeding it to very young children could cause hypervitaminosis (vitamin overdose). “In my view, there's a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead,” Professor Heather Yeatman, president of Australia’s Public Health Association told Australian Women’s Weekly.
Photo courtesy of the Bubba Bubba Yum Yum Cookbook
The paleo approach does cut down on processed foods and sugars, and has been proven to ameliorate some cardiovascular risks for those with diabetes. And while the diet can be a generally healthy option for adults who plan their meals and nutritional intake very carefully, experts find the regimen to be unnecessarily restrictive and unable to meet nutritional needs for infants. The Guardian reports:
Renowned nutritionist, Dr Rosemary Stanton, said she had come across many parents over the years who had placed their children on extreme diets.
While adults could adapt to the paleo diet and increase their fruit and vegetable intake to meet their nutrient needs, children were unable to consume the volume of produce required to make up for those nutrients lost from eliminated food-groups.
“It turns out you get a whole lot of really nice, beneficial bacteria from whole grains and yogurt, which are not eaten by those following the paleo diet,” she said.
“It’s really not a good diet for your future health, and it’s not the diet our ancestors ate anyway, despite what its followers claim.”