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The Paleo Diet: Part 2

This is part two of a series of articles that explores the controversy centered around the Paleolothic diet.  If you missed the first article here’s a brief review of what the Paleo Diet is all about.

The Paleo Diet prescribes a diet similar to what is perceived to be the ancient diet of cavemen of the Paleolithic period. Because cavemen of that era largely survived on wild animals and plants, today’s more modern version centers on meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, roots, and nuts.  Most followers of this diet adhere to about 65% of all calories from animal sources and the remaining 35% from plant-based food. 

Much of the debate over the nutritional quality of the Paleo diet stems from the exclusion of grains as well as other carbohydrates. Legumes, starchy tubers such as potatoes and beets aren’t allowed. 

By default, most low carbohydrate diets are usually high in total fat and cholesterol, which can contribute to heart disease and cancer.  They also usually encourage high protein consumption, which can put a strain of the kidneys and liver. 

Dietician experts as well as most of the medical community will tell you that a healthy diet consists of grain products, vegetables and fruits and is low in saturated fats, including animal fat. 

As you can see, the Paleo diet is lacking in grains but has an abundance of animal fat.

A bit of carbophobia seems to be involved.

There does seem to be a certain amount of carbophobia involved with the Paleo way of life.  According to Paleo proponents, since the early hunters and gathers didn’t eat many of the carbohydrates, particularly grains, we aren’t genetically wired to eat grains or potatoes, or yams, or carrots even though they’re rich in micronutrients and we certainly benefit from that.

Plus, there are plenty of grains that are completely unprocessed or minimally processed at least. 
The problem is that without a diet rich in a variety of complex carbs you’re setting yourself up for trouble in the long run. An extended stay on this type of diet (high in animal protein and fat) can lead to an increased risk of:

  • Gout
  • Colon cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • And certain cancers

Those who follow the Paleo Diet believe enjoying robust health and longevity will be the result.  However, there is evidence that there are entire groups of people who live well into their nineties and beyond yet consume a diet totally opposite of what the Paleolithic diet dictates.  Who these people are and what they eat will be the subject of the next article in this series.

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