Losing weight, is this diet good for everything?

Promoting certain dietary habits to improve overall health is common. In recent years, a dietary pattern has been developed called the Paleolithic diet
Also known as the Paleo diet, it has taken the health and wellness world by storm.

Despite the Paleo diet’s popularity, many researchers and health experts argue that it’s not necessarily the best diet for overall health. In fact, some believe it could be harmful. Here’s what research says about the Paleo diet to uncover its potential health benefits.

What is a paleo diet?

The Paleo diet, also known as the Stone Age diet or the Caveman diet, is a diet that aims to replicate the hunter-gatherer diet of thousands of years ago. People who follow a Paleo diet eat large amounts of meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, but limit legumes, dairy, and grains.

Foods and beverages commonly consumed by a person following a Paleo diet include:

– Meat, with game meat or grass-fed animals being preferred
– Fishes
– eggs
– the water
– herbal tea
– Fruit
– Herbs and spices
– Mother
– seed
– healthy oils like walnut or olive oil.

Foods that a person on a Paleo diet will often avoid include:

– Dairy products
– refined sugar
– Salt
– Legumes, which include beans, peanuts and peas
– artificial ingredients
– processed foods
– carbonated drinks
– Cereals, especially rice, wheat and oats
– Potatoes

One of the most common misconceptions about the Paleo diet is that our ancestors survived on a mostly meat-based diet. As we learn more about the Paleolithic, we discover that the people who lived during this period had a plant-based diet, with only 3% meat, according to some estimates.

What Are the Alleged Benefits of the Paleo Diet?

Proponents of the paleo diet believe the shift from a hunter-gatherer diet to an agricultural diet has increased the global prevalence of chronic diseases, including heart disease, obesity and diabetes. They believe that the human body is not genetically equipped to consume modern foods introduced through agricultural practices. Therefore, they believe that if we follow a diet similar to that of our ancestors, our overall health will improve.

Claimed benefits of a Paleo diet include:

– Improvement in cholesterol levels
– lowering of blood pressure
– better blood sugar control
– Waist reduction and weight loss
– improved feeling of satiety
– improved gut health
– Reduction in all-cause mortality.

Switching from a Western diet high in processed foods and high in sodium to a Paleo diet allows for the intake of more fresh fruits and vegetables, which can undoubtedly benefit overall health. Many people also report improvements in inflammation, focus, and sleep. They also report weight loss, which is likely due to eating more whole foods while cutting out key food groups.
Although the Paleo diet has the potential to be healthy, is it necessary to limit grains, legumes, and dairy to reap the benefits?
Let’s see how the Paleo diet stacks up scientifically.

What does science say about these claims?

Several advances in science and research have allowed us to further investigate the potential benefits of the Paleo diet to determine if it should become a diet that medical professionals routinely recommend.
A 2015 review looked at four randomized controlled trials involving 159 participants who had one or more of the five components of metabolic syndrome.
Researchers found that the Paleolithic diet resulted in more significant short-term improvements in the following areas compared to the control diet:

– Waist size
– Triglyceride levels
– blood pressure
– High density lipoprotein (HDL) levels or “good” cholesterol
– fasting blood sugar

A study published in the Nutrition Journal evaluated several randomized controlled trials to establish a relationship between the Paleolithic diet and the prevention and control of chronic diseases and anthropometric measures. The study found an average weight loss of 3.52 kilograms and a decrease in waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) in people following a Paleolithic diet compared to those following a Paleolithic diet. The researchers behind this study suggest that following a Paleo diet may reduce the risk of chronic diseases, since obesity is one of the main risk factors for their development.

Is the Paleo Diet Better Than Other Diets?

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition aimed to examine the links between the Paleolithic diet and the Mediterranean diet, as well as all-cause and cause-specific mortality. The study found that people who followed a Paleo or Mediterranean diet had reduced all-cause mortality, oxidative stress, and mortality from heart disease and cancer.

A 2020 meta-analysis looked at four studies to compare the Paleo diet to the Mediterranean diet, the diabetic diet and another diet recommended by the Dutch Health Council. Researchers studied the effects of these diets on glucose and insulin homeostasis in people with impaired glucose metabolism. They found that people following the Paleo diet had no significant improvements in fasting blood sugar, insulin levels, or HbA1c levels compared to those following the other types of diets. The study authors conclude that the Paleo diet is not superior to other nutritious diets in people with impaired glucose metabolism.

Additionally, a January 2020 study published in the journal Nutrition examined the effectiveness of various diets, including the Paleo diet and intermittent fasting. The authors found that there is currently no specific diet that is able to effectively promote weight loss in all individuals. They concluded that the best diet for weight loss is negative energy balance while focusing on food quality.

The Risks of a Paleo Diet

Eliminating certain food groups can improve certain health markers and lead to weight loss, but it can also lead to nutrient deficiencies and increase the risk of long-term health consequences. For example, a Paleo diet restricts dairy products, which are high in calcium and vitamin D, two nutrients essential for bone health. A deficiency in these nutrients can lead to…
osteoporosis and fractures.

This diet also excludes beans and legumes. Beans are an excellent source of minerals, fiber and plant-based protein. They can also help lower cholesterol and promote satiety.

Additionally, many people who follow a Paleo diet claim that it benefits gut health, but new research says otherwise.
Some studies suggest that people who follow a paleo diet have a different gut microbiota and higher levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a compound associated with cardiovascular disease. This research reinforces current dietary recommendations that recommend eating high-fiber foods and whole grains to maintain cardiovascular function and gut health.

People who take a modern approach to the Paleo diet often use it as an excuse to eat too much meat. Eating more than the recommended servings of meat each day, especially red meat, can lead to chronic disease. Excess protein intake from animal sources increases the body’s production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). High IGF-1 levels and high dietary protein intake can lead to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes and all-cause mortality.

There is no scientific evidence that the Paleo diet is superior to other well-known diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, unless a person has a medical condition that compels them to limit a particular food group.

A diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains is more varied, more sustainable, and has scientifically proven health benefits.
It’s possible to get all the necessary nutrients from the foods allowed on the Paleo diet, but it can be difficult. For example, people should try to get calcium from non-dairy sources like dark green leafy vegetables.

Sources

Paleolithic diet

Paleolithic diet for the metabolic syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis

Impact of Paleolithic diet on anthropometric markers in chronic disease: systematic review and meta-analysis

The Effect of the Paleolithic Diet vs. Healthy Diet on Glucose and Insulin Homeostasis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Scientific evidence for weight loss diets: different macronutrient composition, intermittent fasting and popular diets

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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