The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet stimulates the dietary pattern and habits of our Paleolithic ancestors. In essence, it discourages processed foods and crops that started after the agricultural revolution, such as grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and refined vegetable oils. A Paleo dieter will consume fruits, vegetables, tubers, nuts, seeds, healthful oils, grass-fed lean meat, fish, shellfish, free-range poultry and their eggs. Like the keto diet, the paleo diet refrains from certain food groups and may reduce compliance. Besides that, grass-fed meat and free-range poultry are hard to find and costly to purchase.

Not all grains and cereals are bad. Wholegrains are rich in essential nutrients and may prevent certain metabolic diseases and cancers. Likewise, legumes and pulses are nutrient-dense and low in fats. The health benefits claimed from restricting these foods are questionable.

Last but not least, the paleo diet is extremely difficult to be practised by vegans because it prohibits consumption of legumes, an important protein source for vegans. They can only take quinoa and amaranth which are considered as ancient grains that have higher protein content.

What are the benefits?

Compared with a typical westernised diet, the paleo diet encourages a chock-full of healthier eating patterns. It is packed with fibre, antioxidants, phytochemicals, healthy unsaturated fatty acids, lean protein; it is low in saturated fats, harmful omega-6 fatty acids, trans-fats, simple sugars and sodium.

A diet rich in plant-based foods and lean protein helps to promote satiety, weight loss and may control blood sugar levels. A couple of small scale and short-term studies indicated that paleo diet may ease inflammation, reduce high blood pressure, improve blood lipid profile and other risk factors of cardiovascular diseases.

What are the drawbacks?

Like other high-protein diets, the paleo diet may be damaging to the kidney and bones in the long term. The absence of several food groups in the paleo diet makes supplementation essential to meet nutrient requirements.