Food & Diet

Paleo Diet: Is It a Healthy Diet?

The Paleolithic diet, also known as the Paleo diet, is a modern-day diet that requires the consumption of foods that were consumed by humans during the Paleolithic era.  This diet is also known as the caveman or stone-age diet.

The Paleo-style diet promotes a way of improving health.  There are some evidence that this diet may help improve the terms of body composition and improved metabolic effects.

However, there is some controversy on this diet.  Our digestive abilities are very different from the humans during the Paleolithic era.  This undermines the diet’s core premise, but there are those who would argue that the human digestive system has remained unchanged all this time.  Researchers are still conducting studies to see what benefits this diet has to offer.

Not only does the Paleo diet avoid processed foods but also the foods humans began eating after the Neolithic Revolution.  The Neolithic Revolution was during the transition of humans from hunter-gatherers to settled agriculture.  Loren Cordain, an American scientist advocated the paleolithic diet and published a book on the diet called The Paleo Diet.

What Can You Eat on Paleo Diet?

Here are some examples of what is on the paleo diet food list.  These are just a few examples of what to eat, but click here for a more detailed list.

  • “Lean meat, such as chicken, turkey, pork, lean beef, and buffalo (bison)
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Fresh fruit
  • Nonstarchy vegetables, such as lettuce, asparagus, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and spinach
  • Nuts, like almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, and pistachios (no peanuts)
  • Seeds, like pumpkin and sunflower
  • Eggs
  • Plant-based oils, such as olive, walnut, grapeseed, and coconut oil” (2)

 

What to Avoid on the Paleo Diet?

This is some examples of what foods to avoid while on a paleo diet.  This is list was is not a complete list but click here for a detailed plan.

  • “Grains, such as oats, wheat, barley, and rice — which means no cereal, bread, pasta, bagels, crackers, or granola bars
  • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and corn, as well as potato and corn chips, tortillas, and popcorn
  • Legumes or beans — so no peanuts or peanut butter; no soy foods, such as soy milk, tofu, or edamame; no hummus or beans of any kind
  • Dairy products — so no milk, yogurt, cheese, or ice cream
  • High-fat meats, such as salami, bologna, pepperoni, hot dogs, ground meat, rib roast, and ribs
  • Sugars, such as in soda, honey, jam or jelly, syrup, candy, cakes, cookies, and sports drinks
  • Processed foods or trans fats, such as doughnuts, french fries, fruit snacks, or macaroni and cheese
  • Salty foods, such as crackers, chips, pretzels, soy sauce, added-salt foods, or sports drinks” (3)

Are There Any Health Benefits?

A study published NCBI about the favorable effects of consuming a Paleolithic-type diet on characteristics of the metabolic syndrome which was a randomized controlled pilot-study. (4)  It was concluded that people who had been on the diet for at least two weeks had improved several cardiovascular risk factors, but in test subjects with the metabolic syndrome.  Essentially, this diet focuses on eating organic, natural foods without preservatives  and artificial ingredients.  The Paleo diet also good for reducing that bloated feeling because it adds more fiber, drinking lots of water, and avoiding salt to your diet.  It also promotes a nutrient-rich diet plan and makes it hard to go hungry.

Unfortunately, the research that was done on the Paleo style diet was mostly done on a higher protein, moderate carb version. There is ongoing research to see what benefits this diet can help prevent.  However, for some people who have type 2 diabetes, the Paleo diet may be a better than a typical Diabetes diet.

Who Benefits Most From the Paleo Diet?

Researchers aren’t sure why the paleo-diet followers had better health outcomes, but it’s possible that paleo-friendly foods might be better suited for a type 2 diabetes diet than other foods, says Lynda Frassetto, MD, a nephrologist and the lead researcher on the study. “We believe there are multiple factors involved, including more fiber leading to decreased uptake of sugar from the intestines, more micronutrients and antioxidants, and potentially a healthier impact on gut microflora,” says Dr. Frassetto.(1)

A study done over a 3 month period found that the Paleo diet actually improved glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.  There was also findings that improved several cardiovascular risk factors.  It appeared that more patients with type 2 diabetes reacted better to the Paleo diet than to a Diabetic Diet.

I strongly recommend that speaking with your doctor and a nutritionist before starting any diet.  The Paleo diet seems to better benefit people who have certain conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular, and metabolic health issues. In addition, it appears to be a more successful diet plan because it does not leave one hungry, like some diets   But not all diets affect everyone the same.  It is very important to speak with a health care professional when choosing a diet.

Special thanks to Everyday Health for cover photo

Special thanks to Resources:

Everyday Health(1)

UMPC Health Beat(2,3)

thepaleodiet.com

NCBI: favourable effects of consuming a Palaeolithic-type diet on characteristics of the metabolic syndrome (4)

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