The Benefits & Risks of the Paleo Diet You Need to Know

The Benefits and Risks of the Paleo Diet You Need to Know

The history of Paleo

A way of eating that truly goes back to basics, Paleolithic diets are all about eating like our ancestors did.

While you may not be inclined or even required to chase down a wildebeest. Paleo fans aim to eat as naturally as possible. Opting for grass-fed meats, an abundance of fruit and veg and other wholefoods like nuts and seeds.

Some relaxed versions of the diet allow taboo foods (that were not necessarily available during that era) like low-fat dairy products and potatoes.

While others shun even fruit or veg that is considered to contain too much fructose.

Paleolithic living as a dietary concept was first promoted by gastroenterologist, Dr Walter L Voegtlin.

His book, The Stone Age diet, was published in 1975 and paved the way for a plethora of different Paleolithic approaches.

All similar in their core principles but with varying rules and restrictions.

Common terms for these types of diet include the caveman diet, the hunter-gatherer diet and of course, the Paleo diet.

A holistic approach to achieving a healthier and happier life and becoming the best version of you.

What Is Paleo?

Paleo is all about balance – taking the best from our ancestors and mixing it with the best of the 21st Century.

Paleo lays the foundations for a healthy diet – whole unprocessed foods, leafy greens, fresh pesticide-free vegetables, nuts, fruits on occasion, grass-fed meat, pastured free-range poultry and wild-caught fish.

And lifestyle – moving your body every day and being mindful; a holistic approach to achieving a healthier and happier life and becoming the best version of you.

That doesn’t sound hard, right? It just makes sense.

Health Benefits Of Paleo

Avoiding Processed Foods

When following a Paleo diet, you will be avoiding unnatural and heavily processed foods and ingredients.

Today’s food industry is filling our foods with synthetic and addictive ingredients to keep consumers hungry and always coming back for more.

Our metabolisms have not evolved to process such chemicals or synthetics.

And as a result, ingesting these substances can lead to serious illnesses like diabetes and depression.

More muscle & less fat

The paleo diet relies on high-quality, healthy protein sources.

Combined with a healthy workout regimen, these proteins help build new muscle cells – and the more muscle you have, the better your metabolism works.

This is because muscles are more metabolically active, so more energy is directed to muscle cells instead of stored in fat cells.

This makes your body more likely to store energy as glycogen in your muscles instead of triglycerides in your fat cells.

Reduces Allergy Symptoms

Seasonal allergy sufferers are familiar with the runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, irritated throat, and rashes that can pop up when your immune system starts overreacting to environmental stressors.

This style of eating promotes a healthy intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows has been correlated with fewer incidences of the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies.

In a study that examined the effect of fish oil on asthma sufferers, results indicated a connection between the supplement and respiratory health – which indicates that an increase of omega-3s could be beneficial for allergy sufferers, as well.

The diet is also rich in other foods and nutrients that have shown to help with allergy symptoms, including fruits and vegetables and vitamin E.

Lower Diabetes Risk

Eating a high-fiber diet helps control your blood sugar levels, which can reduce your risk for Type-2 diabetes, according to

Eating Paleo offers these benefits as long as you’re enjoying plentiful fruits and vegetables at every meal.

In a study published in “Diabetologia” in 2007, which compared the Paleo diet to the Mediterranean diet, the Paleo group experienced a reverse in Type-2 diabetes symptoms while the Mediterranean group did not have notable improvement.

It May Prevent (or Reverse) Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of medical conditions that, when presented together, increase the risk of diabetes, stroke, and coronary heart disease.

Current dietary guidelines published by the USDA recommend daily servings of fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains.

To rate how the current nutritional guides compare with the Paleo diet in those with at least one of the five conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.

Researchers found that Paleolithic nutrition resulted in improvements across all categories: waist circumference, triglycerides, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, and fasting blood sugar.

The problem with Paleo

Paleo-style eating has a lot of good qualities: It emphasizes whole foods, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. Incorporating more of these foods into your diet would likely be a big improvement. 

However, the Paleo diet has some flaws. The evolutionary arguments don’t hold up, and the evidence for excluding dairy, legumes, and grains isn’t strong (yet).

But my biggest concern is this: A one-size-fits-all “best diet” approach doesn’t work.

Strictly following a list of “good” and “bad” or “allowed” and “not allowed” foods is problematic for most people.

Even more, long-term, it’s tough to be consistent on a strict diet regime like Paleo. Sure, most people can follow it for weeks or months. Maybe even years. But decades? That’s unlikely.

Of course, without being consistent, you can’t make progress.