Is the paleo diet healthy?
Is a frequently asked question and if you too have asked this question you will get your answers as you read through this article.
What is a Paleo Diet?
The paleo diet also known as the “caveman diet” or “paleolithic diet” is a diet or eating plan based on prehistoric human diets that are foods eaten during the paleolithic era or hunter-gatherer ancestors era. The Paleolithic period was the Stone Age era when early humans lived in caves or simple huts and were hunters. The Paleolithic period dates back roughly 2.5 million years ago to 10,000 B.C.
The Purpose of the Paleo Diet
The goal/purpose of the paleo diet is to eat lots of whole unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, and meat while avoiding processed foods like legumes. These whole foods are considered more natural and healthy.
Recommendations for a Paleo Diet
Recommendations for a paleo diet vary based on books, articles, and online. These recommendations I believe have fostered the question, Is the paleo diet healthy? Below are what to eat and what to avoid.
Foods to Eat
Below are foods to eat on paleo diet
- Meat: This includes Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Pork, lean meats etc.
- Fruits: Healthy fruits include Avocados, oranges, apples, strawberries, bananas, and pears.
- Fish and seafood: These include Shellfish, shrimp, salmon, and many more.
- Tubers: Tubers that can be eaten include Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, and many more.
- Spices and salt: Some of these species include Turmeric, garlic, rosemary, and sea salt.
- Vegetables: These vegetables are Peppers, onions, tomatoes, carrots, and broccoli.
- Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds such as Hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Eggs: This could be pastured, free ranged or omega-3 enriched.
- Healthy fats and oils: Healthy fats and oils include olive oil and avocado oil.
Foods to Avoid
Below are necessary foods to avoid if you are looking forward to following a strict paleo diet.
- Sugar: This includes soft drinks, ice cream, candy, pastries, table sugars, and fruit juices.
- Grains: Grains such as wheat, oats, barley, pasta, and cereal.
- Dairy: Dairy such as Low-fat dairy, butter, cheese, and milk.
- Vegetable Oil: This includes soybean oil, corn oil, cotton oil, and sunflower oil.
- Highly processed foods: Highly processed foods such as diets or low-fat that contain many additives such as artificial meal replacement, chips, or cookies.
- Legumes: Legumes such as beans and lentils
Drinks you Can Take on the Paleo Diet
It is best to take WATER when on the paleo diet, water should be your go-to beverage. It is hydrating and good for your health and it is best to avoid water with chemicals and additives. Drink more tap/filtered water.
However, below are a few beverages accepted even if they are not exactly paleo.
- Tea: Tea, especially green tea, is very healthy and contains a lot of antioxidants(substances that protect the body from damage caused by free radicals) and other beneficial compounds.
- Coffee: Coffee just like Tea, is very high in antioxidants and is beneficial too.
- Coconut water: Coconut water is sweet and rich in electrolytes, and a great source of potassium.
- Unsweetened herbal teas: They’re naturally caffeine-free and can be a good source of antioxidants. This includes chamomile and peppermint.
How Healthy is the Paleo Diet?
For beginners, To be and stay healthy on the paleo diet, Dr. Cordain says that you will need to exercise regularly while following a strict diet of natural foods.
The paleo diet has both benefits and risks. On the benefits side, the diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins which make up an important part of a healthy diet. The paleo diet can be a good source of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidants are substances that protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. Both the antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. Another potential benefit is its ability to improve heart health and stabilize blood levels.
However, the paleo diet can be restrictive which some people can find difficult to stick to. Also, the diet eliminates a lot of foods including legumes and processed foods which could deprive you of essential nutrients needed in the body which can cause deprivation.
So, is the paleo diet healthy? Yes, but it is advisable to see a professional before commencing a strict paleo diet plan to avoid its hazards/risks as mentioned earlier.
Benefits and Risks of the Paleo Diet
Although some of these have been talked about above, is the paleo diet healthy? We would love to talk about it extensively here.
Benefits of Paleo Diet
Below are about 5 few benefits of the paleo diet.
- Weight loss: I think Weight loss is a major reason why people observe the paleo diet plan. The Paleo diet can help you lose weight because it eliminates processed foods and refined carbohydrates, both of which can contribute to weight gain. The diet is based mostly on eating plenty of whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, which are high in fiber and can help you feel full and satisfied.
- Improved digestion: The paleo diet improves digestion by eliminating the processed foods that can be hard to digest by the body.
- Increased energy levels: The paleo diet due to its richness in nutrients that help the body produce more efficiently can increase energy levels. It also eliminates sugar and other refined carbohydrates which can cause energy crashes.
- Improved mental clarity: The paleo diet improves mental clarity due to the diet’s focus on nutrient-rich foods and the elimination of processed foods.
- Improves sleep and skin health: The diet’s emphasis on lots of fruits and vegetables can cause an improvement in Sleep due to the presence of magnesium. Also, foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients improve skin health.
Risks of the Paleo Diet
Below are a few risks of the paleo diet.
- Restrictive and difficult to follow: Paleo diet can be restrictive and difficult to follow especially for people who are used to eating a lot of processed foods and for starters. This can lead to feelings of deprivation and cravings, which can make it hard to stick to the diet in the long term.
- Health Hazards:The paleo diet may be low in certain nutrients, like calcium and vitamin D if not planned properly. This causes a lot of problems and health hazards for people who are already at risk for deficiencies in these nutrients. It is not especially healthy for people with cancer.
- It may not be sustainable in the long term: Some people might give up before the end because it’s not always easy to stick to a restrictive diet, and people may find it difficult to maintain the diet over time.
Is the paleo diet healthy? The paleo diet may not be suitable for everyone and therefore one should consult his/her dietician or doctor before deciding to take a path with the diet.
Overall, the paleo diet is beautiful especially since it is all natural and unprocessed but I however feel a little processed food would not harm though.
What do you think?