The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet fad has been around since 1975 and became popular again in 1985 and 2002. This diet is also called the Paleolithic diet, the stone age diet and the caveman diet. During the Paleolithic era (a time that ended about 12,000 years ago) the only foods that were available were those that can be hunted, fished or gathered; meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruits and berries.

Paleo DietThose who follow the Paleo diet are mimicking eating habits of the stone age based on the assumption that humans from that time were healthy, that the human body has become less healthy from Neolithic agriculture (when planting and farming was initiated as a food supply), and that the body has not evolved since this time. The Paleo diet prohibits dairy, grains, legumes, potatoes, refined vegetable oils and refined sugars. It promotes consumption of meat, fish, eggs, poultry, nuts, seeds and healthy oils. There are pros and cons about this type of eating plan.

The Benefits of the Paleo Diet:
• It promotes some healthy foods such as lean protein, vegetables and fruit.
• It states that you must eliminate processed foods although you will find “Paleo friendly” food products that can be found in a box.
• It eliminates refined sugars.

The Negatives of the Paleo Diet:
• It is extremely low in calcium and vitamin D which is essential for bone health.
• It eliminates legumes (beans and peas) which are an excellent source of fiber, iron and protein.
• It eliminates grains that provide carbohydrates that are used for energy production, and fiber which helps reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
• It can promote high intake of red meat which is associated with certain cancers.
• It exceeds the guidelines for fat intake which can increase risk of heart disease.
• It is a restrictive diet that can result in disordered eating.

Paleo dieters may consume too much red meat which is high in saturated fat resulting in high LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). The restriction of dairy leads to impaired bone health from deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D. This can eventually lead to osteoporosis. The low carbohydrate intake that results from the elimination of grain products results in fatigue because carbohydrate is the preferred source of fuel for the body.

The side effects of the Paleo diet include fatigue, irritability, bad breath, elevated LDL cholesterol and other health risks. The Paleo diet is not recommended for people with heart disease, kidney disease or liver disease. In addition, it does not teach someone how to have a healthy relationship with food, may result in anxiety from food restriction, and often backfires. Although there are some very healthy components of the Paleo diet it is deficient in certain nutrients required for good health. If you consume this type of eating plan be sure to consult with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to determine how to avoid nutrition deficiencies