Is the Paleo Diet Worth Trying? What Are the Benefits and Risks?

The paleo diet, as the name suggests, is in line with the diet structure and diet environment of our ancestors, which is a throwback diet. The regimen is based on the theory that our bodies perform best when following the diet of our ancestors from the Paleolithic era, before the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago.

If following this diet, your meals should be free of sugar, grains, legumes, dairy and starchy vegetables. Moreover, you cannot enjoy processed foods such as cakes, pizza, and cola. Paleo diet can improve your health by eliminating high-fat and processed foods that are low in nutritional value but high in calories.

What foods can you eat on the paleo diet?

  • Meats: pork, beef, poultry, bacon (no-added-sugar versions)
  • Eggs
  • Fish & Shellfish
  • Fruit
  • Nonstarchy vegetables: asparagus, bell peppers, cauliflower, etc.
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Oil: coconut oil, olive oil, butter from pastured cows, lard
  • Herbs & Spices

This diet eliminates foods that contain gluten, and stricter versions also eliminate peanuts and dairy products. Although it advocates eating fruit, you must consume it in moderation. Because the main method for ancestors to obtain food was hunting, rather than waiting for fruits to ripen. Fruit is only a snack for human ancestors during certain seasons, and cannot be the main source of energy.

What are the benefits of the paleo diet?

Several studies have shown that the paleo diet can improve health and help treat autoimmune diseases. But this diet is the newest one, and more experiments are needed to prove its benefits, as well as its potential risks.

1. Paleo diet can help treat autoimmune diseases.

The data from CouponBirds have shown that the paleo diet can improve symptoms of 5 autoimmune diseases.

  • Celiac Disease

    Because the paleo diet excludes gluten, it has an improving effect on celiac diseases.

  • Sclerosis (MS)

    Although there are successful cases, more studies are still needed to prove it.

  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

    A low-carb diet may lower thyroid antibodies that indicate Hashimoto’s disease. Paleo diet also requires less carb consumption.

  • Skin Conditions

    Such as eczema and psoriasis.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

    One study found that the AIP(autoimmune paleo diet) can improve clinical responses in IBD.

However, there is not only one way to treat these autoimmune diseases, and there are still few studies that can provide evidence. Before consulting a doctor, patients should not blindly adopt the paleo diet.

2. Reducing sugar intake can help control appetite and weight.

The paleo diet emphasizes avoiding processed foods, which can prevent intake of refined sugar. The human brain likes sweet taste and is addicted to it. The brain blinded by sweetness makes it difficult to perceive the satisfaction brought by food, and people will unknowingly eat more calories than they need. There are many people who have successfully lost weight on the paleo diet.

3. If you like meat, the paleo diet is easy to follow.

If you’re a fan of grilled chicken, fried steak, bacon, eggs, and you’re craving meat every day, then this diet will be easy for you. Agriculture and technology have kept people from starving and eating carb-rich foods every day, and the reason many people struggle to implement the paleo diet is that they don’t know what else they can eat besides carbs.

4. Improve diseases related to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

If you eliminate starchy foods and increase your intake of fruits and dark vegetables, you’ll get enough essential vitamins and minerals. Fatty salmon and grass-fed beef provide DHA to support brain function. And oil can promote the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K.

What are the risks of the paleo diet?

1. Eating a lot of meat may raise the cost of living

The paleo diet requires you to eat organic foods and grass-fed beef, which are significantly expensive. The United States Department of Agriculture released a national monthly grass fed beef report on December 30, 2022. Among them, the average price of grass-fed ribeye steak is 28.74$/lb, while the average price of commodity beef is 9.8$/lb. In addition, grass-fed beef will emit more carbon dioxide during the farming process, which is harmful to the global climate.

2. The paleo diet will make you eat more saturated fat

While some studies support the benefits of the paleo diet, many scientists still don’t think we have enough evidence to know if this eating style is entirely healthy and risk-free.

Eating meat as the main food will make you eat more saturated fat than before. On the one hand, some studies have pointed out that as long as carbohydrates are excluded, saturated fat is harmless. However, the scientific community generally believes that saturated fat is associated with cardiovascular disease, which can raise mortality.

3. It may cause calcium deficiency

One study found that people following the paleo diet got up to 50 percent of the recommended daily calcium intake. Calcium deficiency can cause symptoms such as muscle cramps, numbness and tingling in the fingers, loss of appetite and abnormal heart rhythms. Long-term calcium deficiency increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

To sum up, if you want to improve your health by adopting the paleo diet, you must consult physicians and registered dietitians for professional advice, and have regular physical examinations to find out whether your body has changed. Be even more cautious if you have diabetes. After all, no studies have proven that a paleo diet will definitely cure certain diseases.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 20, 2024

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