Is the Paleo Diet Safe?

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Paleo Diet mealOne of the more intriguing diets that is getting a lot of attention is the Paleolithic or Paleo diet, often called the “Caveman Diet.”  This diet has been around a long time but lately has garnered more publicity as people seek to try alternative diets for weight loss and health.

The main theme of the diet is to eat foods that cavemen ate way back in the Paleolithic era, including different kinds of meat, fish, nuts, seeds, fungi, vegetables, berries and other fruits. If you were going to eat meats that cavemen ate you would actually be eating wild game, but most people do not have access to wild game so that would limit the number of people who are eating a true Paleo Diet to a small number.  Proponents of the  diet recommend eating grass- fed meat in place of wild game.  Organ meats are also included in the diet.sliced-venison-heart

What is not included in this diet are grains, potatoes, legumes, dairy products, processed oils or refined sugars.

Critics of the diet say the diet is too restrictive and does not include grains, legumes, or dairy products.  They say it is unrealistic to eat a true diet that cavemen ate and there is no evidence that this kind of diet was beneficial to cavemen but was instead practiced out of necessity. 

Proponents of the diet counter these claims, noting that there are health issues for people consuming dairy products and grains, including high cholesterol, gluten intolerance, diabetes, and countless other heath problems.  They state that getting rid of grains and processed foods are key to a healthier lifestyle with less health problems. 

The Paleo Diet started to get a following in the 1970’s when Walter Voegtlin, a gastroenterologist, started promoting the diet.  He claimed that humans are carnivores and their diet should mostly consist of meats and fats. 

The theme of genetics is used when defending the diet, noting that humans are genetically connected to their Paleolithic ancestors and therefore people should be eating the same diet that their ancestors ate in the Paleolithic Age. 

CT scans of mummies showed that these people in the older ages like the Paleolithic Age suffered from atherosclerosis and therefore hunters and gatherers were not protected from heart disease.  

Surveys done in 2011 and 2012 on the top diets had the Paleo Diet ranked at or near the bottom for both years.  The surveys were conducted by U.S. News & World Report and included panels of over 20 diet experts. 

In spite of negative reports like the U.S. News & World Report surveys, people continue to gravitate to this diet because there are positive benefits from the reduction of carbohydrates and processed foods. 

There are similarities to the raw food diet because of the lack of carbohydrates, but raw food dieters shun the inclusion of meats, unless you are eating raw meats.  Vegetarians are also opposed to this diet because of the consumption of meats. 

Choosing to try the Paleo Diet will have to be a personal decision and should not be taken lightly.  Before you embark on this type of diet, make sure you check with your doctor and be aware of the health compromises of eating a diet high in meat consumption. 

 

 

 

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