Paleo is the diet of the moment, although it’s based on some pretty ancient ideas. The concept behind paleo is that the emergence of farming was what actually led to the issues we currently have with dietary health, obesity, and heart disease. Instead, the diet posits that we should live like our Paleolithic ancestors (hence the name) and only eat foods that would have been eaten around 10,000 years ago. These can include: vegetables and fruits, lean meats, nuts and seeds, and fish.
Though paleo seems to offer an effective weight loss option to those who follow its strict code and to provide a choice to those who wish to cut unnecessary and artificial additives from their daily intake, is paleo actually considered to be a healthy diet?
Are People Who Practice Paleo Missing Anything?
According to the Mayo Clinic, one thing concerning the medical community about the paleo diet is the absence of whole grains and legumes. These foods have almost always been considered healthy as well as a good source of fiber. Dairy products are also absent from the diet, which can be a good source of calcium and protein.
Without these products, dieters need to make sure they get enough of these necessary nutrients into their bodies in other ways, which can prove challenging without an extensive knowledge of nutrition. However, individuals can live without diary and do often (veganism is an example) and without whole grains and legumes, although this is less common.
Are There Side Effects of Paleo?
According to UC Davis Health, the paleo diet puts people at risk for certain deficiencies, such as calcium and vitamin D specifically. This could cause serious issues for bone density and bone health. In addition, the diet itself can cause individuals to consume saturated fats and proteins at a much higher rate than normal, which could potentially lead to kidney disease and cancer.
The Mayo Clinic states there have been a number of short-term studies about the diet and its effectiveness, but this does not allow us to have a good idea of the long-term issues that could be caused by someone eating a paleo diet for years or decades. Because the diet is relatively new (despite being very old), it is difficult for us to have a good idea of the full range of benefits and drawbacks that could be associated with it.
Is Paleo Healthy?
In general, the emergence of farming shouldn’t be considered the be-all-and-end-all of our problems with obesity and nutrition. Unfortunately, our society creates a number of fatty foods that contain unnatural ingredients, and this is one of the main reasons we are struggling with these issues now. But it is important to ask if paleo itself can be considered a healthy diet.
According to the Huffington Post, it’s usually never a good idea to preach a one-size-fits-all program when it comes to dieting, saying some foods are bad while others are good. This can make many people less likely to be able to follow the diet long-term, as they weren’t able to create it for themselves with their own specific modifications. Couple this with the fact that we don’t really understand what the long-term effects may be, and paleo starts to look like just another fad diet, most of which have never been considered incredibly healthy.
It’s important to be very careful when starting a completely new regimen when it comes to your diet, especially one as strict as paleo. Sure, it could help you lose weight, but when it comes to being truly healthy, it’s usually best to stick to the doctor recommended portions of the time-tested food groups.