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Dissecting Pete Evans' diet

Date

Are these foods going to make you that much healthier or are they just going to make you broke?

A picture of health ... Pete Evans.

A picture of health ... Pete Evans. Photo: Richard Birch

After revealing a diet dense in eye-wateringly expensive 'super foods' like activated almonds as well as an animal from our coat of arms, poor old Pete Evans became the laughing stock of the nation's twittersphere last week.

At first he was unimpressed with all the teasing. "IGNORANCE is not bliss," he initially wrote on his Facebook page.

But later, he demurred. "Just wanted to say a big 'thanks' to everyones [sic] input over the last few days," he said. "Who would've thought that a little old 'activated nut' could cause so much commotion. I'm genuinely humbled by the many stories I have received from honest people."

He went on to recount stories of lives changed through simple dietary changes.

"It's always inspiring to see people taking responsibility for their own and their families health and wellbeing, whether it be a small change or many aspects of their life, to contribute to their overall wellbeing."

I'm no stranger to a little wild nutrition experimentation and it's great to hear tales of transformed health by dietary tweaks, and while the stories may all be anecdotal, we hardly need scientific backing to know that fruit and veg are great for us. Lord knows, most of us could use a few more of them.

But, the issue with so many of the so-called 'super foods' is that producers make claims they can't back up, just to jack up the prices. As well as this super foods have sprouted a scary breed of food elitists who pontificate about poached Amish-raised, free-range chicken and micro-greens.

"Often people are getting their evidence from the front of the pack," says dietition and author Tara Diversi. "They are [often] anecdotal and are massive claims that haven't been researched."

Besides, she would be surprised if Evans ate  like he said he did on a daily basis anyway, "To be honest very few celebrities or even health professionals would put their exact diet down [to be published]. I wouldn't.

"Or they wouldn't always eat like that. They're more likely to put down something they aspire to because they know people [will read it] and are going to take advice from them."



On the other hand, nutritionist and chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin says "kudos to [Evans] for making changes and educating people."

And while she says she personally eats "a lot of these foods," she has to ask, "are these foods going to make you that much healthier or are they just going to make you broke?"

Activated Nuts

Deactivated

Soaked over night in water to release the enzymes and then dehydrated to reinject the crunch, you can't miss the price difference between activated and 'average' nuts. Activated nuts cost around $20 for 500 grams. But, you can always DIY.

Many at-home 'activators' like Evans, add a little celtic sea salt for flavour. The current superstar of the salt world, Bingley-Pullin says celtic sea salt is not processed and contains higher levels of manganese, a trace mineral that helps the body form connective tissue, sex hormones and plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

As for #activatedalmonds, "what we do know is that ... soaking nuts increases the hydration content," Bingley-Pullin says. Protein doesn't contain high hydration levels so it takes longer to digest, she explains. Eating activated nuts "means some people don't have that sluggish digestion feeling."

But,  Diversi explains that the extra digestion time isn't a bad thing. "Not necessarily. [While] activated nuts are said to have more enzymes, nutrients and are easier to digest...  the body can process nuts really well already and you want your body to do work to process foods," she says.

Cultured/Fermented Vegetables

Kim

Pushed to pickling point with the aid of bacteria, fermented vegetables include sauerkraut, kombu and kim chi. They have lots of beneficial bacteria, Bingley-Pullin says. "They're great for you from a digestive point of view," she explains. "I have sauerkraut in sandwiches or on salad... I love the flavours."

Bacteria are the oldest living organisms on earth, says molecular biologist, Bonnie Bassler in this TED talk, and despite their bad press bacteria can do wonders for us. "They educate your immune system to keep bad microbes out."

If you want to make your own, Sarah Wilson offers a nice recipe and tips here.

Alkalised water

Filtered

Instead of saying he drank alkalised, "Maybe I just should've just said filtered water?" Evans says. "We have a portable mineral pot ($500) water filter which rids tap water from potential carcinogens (chorine, chemicals, bacteria etc).

"I realise there's plenty of controversy around alkalised water, but I would rather choose this option over drinking tap water or bottled water, as it works out cheaper in the long run, and is environmentally friendly."

Neither Diversi or Bingley-Pullin is convinced about alkalised water (around $4,000 for a Kangen Alkaline Water filter). "They say increased alkalinity is easier for the kidneys [to process], but there's no hard data," Bingley-Pullin says. "What's wrong with good, old-fashioned tap water? And maybe a filter for heavy metals."

"Alkalised water doesn't have fluoride," Diversi says. "There's a big camp against fluoride, equally there are people who are advocates. The research doesn't show fluoride is negative.

"Alkalised water is also supposed to have more minerals, but we don't drink water for minerals. We drink it for hydration."

Apple cider vinegar

Apples"

It has been claimed that Apple cider vinegar can cure head lice, aid weight loss and ease digestion.

"People do find digestion better with apple cider vinegar," Diversi says.

"I like apple cider vinegar, " Bingley Pullin agrees. "It increases bile-production [which] is one of the elements that helps us digest food. For me personally it's a little strong on its own. I prefer lemon with water but, I love to cook with it and use it in dressings."

Preliminary studies have found that apple cider vinegar may lower blood glucose levels and high blood pressure. But, the evidence is hardly conclusive and some of the potential risks, when taken in excess, include lowered potassium levels and reduced bone density.

Spirulina

Spirulina"

"It's blood-enriching... and high in iodine - which is great for thyroid health - unless you are hyperthyroid," Bingley-Pullin says of spirulina, which costs between $10 and $350. "Just make sure you're not adding in something you don't need."

Diversi is also a fan. Cautiously. "Concentrated greens are high in antioxidants, high in nutrients - goji berries are too. Some people say they feel better [for taking it]. But, you don't want to replace veggies and you can get those nutrients from other foods."

At the end of the day, both Diversi and Bingley-Pullin agree that although these 'super foods' have benefits, they are often prohibitively expensive for most people and their claims do not always add up.

"You never want health to be an exclusive thing," Bingley-Pullin says. "It has to be accessible - it's easy to be healthy by making smart decisions - eating lean proteins, limiting sugar, alcohol and caffeine and lots of whole foods."

As for Bingley-Pullin's initial question of whether it's worth it. Diversi says, ""My whole philosophy is to do 'good enough'. Eat well and eat whole foods - foods you can find naturally... super foods are not unhealthy, but they are unnecessary.

"The answer is it's not going to make you that much healthier."

In case you missed it: Pete Evans - My Day on a Plate

7am Two glasses of alkalised water with apple cider vinegar, then a smoothie of blended alkalised water, organic spirulina, activated almonds, maca, blueberries, stevia, coconut kefr and two organic, free-range eggs.

8.30am Sprouted millet, sorghum, chia and buckwheat bread, with liver pate, avocado, cultured vegetables, plus ginger and liquorice root tea.

12.30pm
Fresh fish, sautéed kale and broccoli, spinach and avocado salad, cultured veggies.

3pm
Activated almonds, coconut chips, cacao nibs, plus green tea.

6.30pm
Emu meatballs, sautéed veggies, cultured vegetables, plus a cup of ginger and liquorice root tea.
8.30pm A homemade coconut, carob, blueberry, goji and stevia muffin, and a chamomile tea.

182 comments

  • So what's he done wrong apart from tell people what he eats?

    Isn't the world of the troll wonderful.

    Commenter
    Alex
    Location
    Geelong
    Date and time
    November 13, 2012, 9:44AM
    • It's don't think it's trolling. I think it's more the case of the general populace getting sick-to-death of celebrity culture. This concept that a celebrity is worth more, or knows more, than the average Joe is wearing thin. The Max Markson mantra of "the weirder the idea, the more outrageous the behaviour", they then get publicity and space in the media. It's stupifying, really.

      Commenter
      luke r
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 10:51AM
    • I know! I don't get it either. None of these are 'fads', they are foods or concepts that have been around for ages. What is with Australian people?! Cutting someone off at the knees because they are a bit different, or - even more annoying - feeling like every public comment is somehow aimed directly at them, and feel entitled to take offense or ridicule.

      As if Pete was 'being smug' and trying to make other people feel bad by being honest about his food choices. As if Miranda Kerr is trying to make mothers feel guilty because she breastfed successfully and got her figure back.

      WHY ARE YOU TAKING IT PERSONALLY?! HOW IS THIS ABOUT YOU?! WHY ARE THESE CELEBRITIES ANSWERABLE TO YOU?! WHY DO YOU THINK THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING YOU FEEL GOOD?! THEY AREN'T ADVOCATING ANYTHING, THEY ARE JUST ANSWERING THE INTERVIEWER'S QUESTIONS!

      Comments like, 'yeah well, Pete, most of us can't afford that, so what do you have to say for yourself now?!' - um, was he recommending a diet for you? NO. He was answering a question about his food habits. Ignoramus.

      And on his food choices - they are entirely reasonable. Ask any Indian person - they have been 'activating almonds' for many hundreds of years, because they know that the nutrient dose is more readily taken up when they're soaked in water. Apple cider vinegar, sprouted foods - our grannies have been using these since they were little!

      It's not rocket science, nor is it pretentious. So this guy eats ridiculously healthy foods all the time. Good for him! WHY DOES IT MATTER TO YOU SO MUCH?!

      Man, it makes me so mad.

      Commenter
      Australians...huh
      Location
      Adelaide
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 10:52AM
    • You are absolutely right. There is nothing wrong with sharing your diet and it is a great way to start the discussion about the healing power of food.

      The important thing to remember is that everyone's dietary needs are different, so the best thing to do is consult a naturopath or dietitian to understand what your own body needs. There isn't any point in spending a fortune on supplements or super foods if your diet is already adequate, but if you are lacking something it is best to have professional advice.

      Commenter
      kelly
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 10:59AM
    • Food is our body fuel. If you put dodgy fuel in your car it breaks down. If you use average fuel you get average results. If you use a premium fuel you get optimum performance.

      Commenter
      Kev
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 11:15AM
    • "WHY DOES IT MATTER TO YOU SO MUCH?!"

      Uh, if there's one person that it all appears to matter to....

      Commenter
      HM
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 11:31AM
    • What you're nutritionists have missed when discussing Spirulina is that it is nature's best source of bio-avaialble plant protein (containing all of the essential amino acids). It is also high in some of the key B vitamins like B12. That's why many people take it, including vegetarians myself.

      Commenter
      activated and loving it
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 1:02PM
    • To WHY DOES IT MATTER SO MUCH TO YOU.....
      Peter Evans is indeed an advocate. He is the spokesperson for Weight Watcher's latest campaign "Plate of the Nation". According to Weight Watchers this campaign has the (rather lofty) ideal of battling Australia's weight crisis. The article which carried Evans' Day on a Plate, clearly describes him as a Weight Watchers ambassador. Of course Evans has a right to eat what he likes and no one is denying him that. However, his day on a plate doesn't resemble the Weight Watchers programme in the slightest, which features everyday and accessible food to keep slim and healthy.

      Commenter
      Suze40
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 1:19PM
    • If the guy wants to soak his nuts, where's the harm?
      Now, if he liked to blow- dry his nuts, that's a different matter.

      Commenter
      Louis Cypher
      Location
      hades. missouri. land of the free
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 1:33PM
    • @Louis Cypher, I completely agree.
      Good luck to the bloke. I couldn't care less what he eats.

      But his nuts won't be going anywhere me.

      Commenter
      Chopsticks
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      November 13, 2012, 2:08PM

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