Celebrity chef Pete Evans’ new documentary on his paleo diet has been slammed by medical professionals, with one pleading for parents not to involve their children.
The Magic Pill documentary follows five patients suffering from type 2 diabetes, asthma, cancer and autism who adopt the paleo diet for five weeks. It presents their chronic conditions to have drastically improved.
But according to Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson and University of Newcastle professor in nutrition and dietetics Clare Collins, the film requires “major caution” because the diet puts people’s health at serious risk, especially children’s.
“This is misaligned that the answer is a magic pill paleo diet and that plays on people’s fears,” Professor Collins told The New Daily.
“The magic pill is actually to work with people and to help them break this addiction or love affair with discretionary foods.
“I think this movie should come with a major caution. I would make a plea to parents do not put your children on this diet.”
Watch the trailer to the controversial film below:
Ms Collins said while the paleo diet’s promotion of lots of vegetables and fruit is a positive, its exclusion of necessary carbohydrates is harmful.
The film, which was made over two years through Australia, the UK, the US and South Africa, recommends flipping the healthy eating pyramid with emphasis on protein and to cut wheat and grains out of one’s diet.
The documentary claims one case study, Abigail, a four-year-old non-verbal autistic girl who suffers from seizures, was able to speak by the end of the film – all thanks to the diet.
It also states that food is medicine and blames poor diet for modern-day diseases.
“It recommends that you totally avoid really important sources of carbohydrates, whole grains in particular, or dairy products – there’s no justification or evidence to that,” Ms Collins said.
“We would absolutely love to see people ditch their junk food sources of carbohydrates, absolutely would love to see people eat more vegetables and fruit but do we want to see people not eating bread? No way.
“Bread is a really important source of fibre, having a higher intake of whole grains actually also helps lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, but really importantly it helps lower your risk for colon cancer.
“This issue needs to be taken very seriously, I absolutely agree we have a major nutrition problem in Australia and not enough attention is paid to helping people eat right for their health and wellbeing, but following the paleo diet is not the way to do it.”
Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon echoed the comments, calling paleo and ketogenic – high fat, low carbohydrate – diets “harmful” and “hurtful”.
He compared the documentary to the controversial anti-vaccination film Vaxxed, and that they were competing “in the awards for the films least likely to contribute to public health”.
“The idea that a high-fat diet can change a child’s behaviour in a month is just so patently ridiculous … and yet the reality is the parents of autistic children are so desperate they will reach for anything,” Dr Gannon told The Daily Telegraph.
“Elements of the discussion are just plain hurtful, harmful and mean.
“I enjoy [Evans’] emphasis on protein because there’s no question that lean meat, eggs and fish are superfoods … but exclusion diets never work.”