Paleo diet good or bad?

What is the paleo diet?

Is an eating plan adapted by the cavemen thousands of years ago when there were no other options available, suitable to humans today?

Paleolithic or paleo diet is designed to resemble what the human hunter gatherers or cavemen ate thousands of years ago. Paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago.

Paleo diet is eating protein rich foods like meat, vegetables, nuts and a limited amounts of fruit while excluding or avoiding grains, legumes, dairy, salt, refined sugar and processed oils.

Here are the basics:

Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils from fruits and nuts (olive oil or walnut oil)

Avoid: Processed foods, sugar, salt, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats (found in most processed foods).

Paleo diet like many others has been surrounded by a lot of controversy and scientists have been debating whether it is beneficial or not.

Recent research conducted by a team from Australia suggests that people who follow Paleo diets may be placing their heart health at risk. Published in European Journal of Nutrition, the researchers found that, after one year on Paleo diet individuals showed an increased levels of a compound called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) which can have negative effects on the heart. They also found decreased levels of beneficial gut bacteria in the individuals on paleo diet. TMAO first forms in the gut, and its levels depend on a person’s diet and the bacteria that populate their gut, among other factors. Lack of whole grains in the paleo diet leads to increased production of TMAO in the gut.

The Paleo diet excludes all grains and we know that whole grains are a fantastic source of resistant starch and many other fermentable fibers that are vital to the health of your gut microbiome.

Another caveat is that people on the paleo diet consumed twice the recommended level of saturated fats, which isn’t ideal. And there is a well known link between saturated fats and heart health, so next time you think about going paleo take it with a grain of salt.

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About Author: A PhD qualified cardiovascular research scientist interested in everything science and medicine.

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