Is the Paleo Diet for you?

November 12, 2017
Lyndall McAlpine

The “paleo” diet has been pretty popular in the past few years. It was the world’s most popular diet in 2013.

But what is it? Is it a fad? Is it right for you?

The name “paleo” is from the “paleolithic” time when earlier humans (thousands of years ago) were hunters and gatherers. It is thought to represent the era of nutrition before agriculture.

The paleo diet is based on eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat (including organ meats), seafood, healthy fats, fermented foods, herbs, and spices.

The paleo diet increases the amount of whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods, while reducing the number of gut-disrupting, hormone-disrupting, and inflammatory foods. It excludes processed and refined foods (e.g. sugar, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, etc.), grains (e.g. wheat, oats, rice, etc.), dairy and most legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, peanuts, etc.). However less restrictive forms of the paleo diet allow foods such as dairy, white rice, or potatoes.

It’s a diet that seems to be easy to maintain as there is no measuring or counting of calories or carbs.

How does the Paleo diet affect health?

Several clinical studies have been done to find out whether there are health benefits of eating this way.

Some of the research has shown that the paleo diet can help with weight loss and belly fat and it has also been shown to have a positive effect on several modern-day chronic diseases, for example, it can improve risk factors for heart disease, reduce inflammation, improve glucose tolerance, and even reduce symptoms of some autoimmune diseases.

It’s “gut-friendly” because it includes a lot of high-fibre foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds), fermented foods (which contain gut-friendly probiotics), as well as being full of nutritious natural foods.

Who should consider a paleo diet?

Some people recommend the paleo diet for those with food intolerances or autoimmune diseases. Those at high risk for heart disease or diabetes may also be good candidates to give the paleo diet a try.

If you react to gluten or lactose, this diet removes them both by eliminating all grains and dairy.

Is it a Fad?

To be honest, I am always wary of extreme diets. My philosophy is “moderation”.

There are many very good components to the Paleo diet.

  • At the very least, eliminating added sugars, processed, and refined foods are a great goal, and
  • eating plenty of fresh fruit and especially vegies is something I believe we should all strive for.
  • I like the exclusion of modern gluten containing grains, many of which are so destructive to our gut health.
  • I like the exclusion of lactose, I believe we were never meant to be drinking cows’ milk (the theory that it is a good source of calcium may be outweighed by the acidity which actually draws calcium from our bones to create homeostasis of ph), however some of us can still tolerate cheese and yoghurt as these have been cultured and there is less lactose content
  • However I personally prefer to reduce the amount of acidic animal meat and I just cannot see bacon (which I have seen in many paleo recipes) being “healthy”!

As I always explain to my clients, each of us is unique and every body’s needs are different to others. Experiment with what you feel is good for you and listen to your body.

 

Here’s a Paleo Banana Muffin recipe you might like to try

 

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/paleo-diet-meal-plan-and-menu/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/start-here/paleo-diet/

https://authoritynutrition.com/5-studies-on-the-paleo-diet/