Published on February 28th, 2013 | by Nick Coe0
Paleo Diet Problems: Knowing the Other Side of the Coin
The Science Daily reported that the Paleo Diet can beat the Mediterranean diet with regard to weight loss and blood sugar control. The theory behind this diet is that our ancestor’s diet, which has been practiced for over two million years ago, may also be the best diet that can be followed today.
An Overview of the Paleo Diet
Also known as the caveman’s diet, the Paleo Diet involves eating foods that can be hunted such as sea foods and meats and harvested such as nuts, roots, fruits, vegetables, and eggs. This diet excludes the consumption of sweets, processed foods, alcohol, refined sugar, salt, dairy, legumes, and grains, among others. This diet may sound healthy for the body, however, before you head to the supermarket and get started with this diet, consider a few Paleo diet problems listed below.
Problems Associated with the Paleo Diet
• Lacks scientific evidence
Though the diet claims to be the healthiest diet in the world, it was not substantiated and supported by strong scientific evidence. Accordingly, the Food Safety News reported that there is no specific health research that backs up the said claim. The only supported claim is that eating high-glycemic and highly processed foods is unhealthy.
• Could lead to vitamin deficiencies
Though consuming more roots and nuts, fruits, and vegetables and cutting down on alcohol, dairy, processed foods, salt, and sugar consumption is a healthy idea, excluding legumes and whole grains from the diet is not. Also, consuming large amounts of eggs, sea foods, and meats does not necessarily mean that people will become healthier.
Whole or refined grains provide the necessary nutrients to the body such as vitamins and minerals and fiber, making them a vital part of a healthy diet. These foods are associated with lower risks of developing certain cancers, diabetes, and heart diseases. The USDA reports that all commercially produced grains or refined grains are enriched with the essential vitamin B. Hence, excluding grains in the diet could lead to vitamin B deficiencies, which can cause poor oral health, anemia, and skin disorders. Also, lack of carbs in the diet can lead to mood changes, fatigue, and tiredness.
Those who choose the Paleo diet must consider taking a multivitamin supplement, which contains complete daily value of nutrients that the body requires. However, this can mean additional cost to the dieter and can be expensive as well.
• Could lead to calcium deficiencies
Another cornerstone of the Paleo Diet is to avoid milk. However, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, people who avoid dairy products like milk are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. They recommend a daily calcium intake of at least 1000mg to prevent osteoporosis. Hence, avoiding dairy products could lead to calcium deficiencies, which can cause bone density loss and hypertension. Though you can get calcium from plants like spinach, it may not be well-absorbed like the calcium from dairy products. Hence, those who choose to follow the Paleo Diet should consider taking calcium supplements.
• High in Saturated Fat
Paleo Diet also promotes a high protein and low carbohydrate intake. This diet ratio for protein and carbohydrate can add stress to the body. High protein and low carbohydrate diet has been associated with kidney damage, cancers, heart diseases, and high cholesterol. Also, the high amount of protein intake means high in saturated fat. This might be good for cavemen since they spend most of their time hunting and searching for food in the mountains or woods. But, in the modern times, this can create a lot of health problems since the modern people typically spend their time seated. Today, people spend more time hunting online for any information, than hunting for food outside.
• Requires a significant amount of adjustment
Practicing the Paleo diet in the 21st century is not as easy as you might think. The Nutrition Basics reported that most people get their bulk of calories from carbohydrate sources such as whole grains. Hence, completely cutting out these sources can be a drastic dietary shift for most people. Also, since the Paleo Diet entails high intake of meat-based protein, people who are not used to eating a lot of meat or the vegetarians may find it difficult to shift to this type of diet. Moreover, since you cannot include any processed foods in the diet, it is basically impossible to eat outside your house, unless if you will find a restaurant that serves unprocessed foods. While it is possible to strictly practice the Paleo Diet, there are practical hurdles that a dieter needs to address first before diving into the caveman’s lifestyle.
• Not environmentally sustainable
If the Paleo Diet is adopted on a mass level, it is definitely not environmentally sustainable. Ninety-nine percent of the meat consumed by people did not come from the animals that roam on a grassy field, but comes from the animals that are confined in factory farms. The grass-fed and pasture-raised meats that are required for consumption in the Paleo Diet are less available and more expensive than the conventional meats. Also, increasing the animal agriculture can lead to global warming as it produces more greenhouse gases than any other form of transportation.
Overall, the Paleo Diet promotes the diet of prehistoric people and undermines the value of the modern well-balanced diet. While many health experts support this diet, others believe that it is just a new fad diet inspired from an old history. In a nutshell, the Paleo diet has its own good and bad sides. However, it may be worth taking into consideration for some individuals. Nevertheless, remember that choosing the Paleo Diet involves making many changes, not only to your diet, but also to your overall lifestyle. It is also important to consult your doctor before starting your new diet, especially if it requires drastic changes to your eating habits.