The paleo diet, or caveman diet, has millions of fans around the world. It is probably one of the most instantly recognisable names in the dieting world, and its proponents vary from celebrities and athletes to medical professionals. So it must be fantastic, right? Well, while there is no doubting many of the benefits of the paleo diet, there are some issues with it that don’t quite stand up to scrutiny. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the benefits, and the drawbacks, of the paleo diet.
The paleo diet encourages us to avoid processed foods and to focus on natural foods that our ancestors used to primarily make up their diet. This includes seafood, proteins, fruits and vegetables while avoiding legumes, grains, dairy and processed foods. The biggest issue here, and one that most people should focus on, is processed foods. Convenience foods and processed foods have rapidly become a staple in many homes and in many people’s day to day diets. These processed foods can be packed full of saturated fats and sugars that have been proven to be harmful to our health.
This, in turn, has also led to an international weight problem that threatens to become one of the biggest issues that society faces. We are getting fat, and we are getting unhealthy. The paleo diet encourages avoiding many of these processed foods, and that not only benefits us from a health perspective but can dramatically help with weight control. This is a huge benefit of the paleo diet.
However, it is not fair to say that everything about the paleo diet stands up to scrutiny. As mentioned above, the paleo diet says to avoid legumes (dry fruits that come in a shell or a pod, like peas or beans). The reasoning for this is that they are rich in anti-nutrients. Modern research, however, indicates that cooked legumes are very low in anti-nutrients and that avoiding them entirely is of little to no benefit.
Furthermore, the paleo diet, when followed strictly, can result in many people have an imbalance in their diet that can cause more problems than it solves. The paleo diet is not a one size fits all diet, and yet it is often marketed as such by people who should know better. Ultimately, an individual’s diet should be catered specifically to their needs, and not to what an ideal or a concept believes.
Ultimately, there are plenty of pros and cons to the paleo diet, much like any other diet. The challenge for us is to be able to identify the pros while avoiding the cons.