Did you know that roughly three million people in the United States have adopted an "ancestral" way of eating? That's quite a few people jumping on the Paleo trend! But how do you know if this cave man diet is right for you? Let's make a classic pro/con list to figure it out.
Pros of Paleo:
- A focus on fresh, unprocessed, whole foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, meats and fat.
- Organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed, antibiotic-free and wild-caught meats are promoted.
- High quality saturated fats are usually at the center of the diet instead of inflammation-promoting unsaturated fats.
- Paleo is a wonderful diet for autoimmune disorders as well as IBS and digestive disorders.
Many people initially thrive on a Paleo diet for the first year or two. But past this point, many often experience food cravings, lowered thyroid, decreased metabolism, lower body temperatures, blood sugar issues and even some food sensitivities.
Cons of Paleo:
- Paleo can be restrictive and may not be sustainable in the long run. A one-size-fits-all "best diet" approach doesn't work — strictly following a list of good/bad or allowed/not allowed foods is problematic for most people. Even more, long-term, it's tough to be consistent on a strict diet regime like Paleo.
- Restricting carbs can slow metabolism, leading to constipation, increased dependence on the bodies stress hormones and impaired detoxification.
- The diet focuses on muscle meats, which can be a bit inflammatory. We need a balance of anti-inflammatory like shellfish, whole fish, bone broth, eggs and raw grass-fed dairy.
- Intense cravings are common. Paleo demonizes sugar, but all carbohydrates (starches, fruits, grains) eventually break down into sugars in the body. Cravings for sugar likely mean more carbohydrates (which aren't allowed on the diet) are needed.
- Paleo often restricts dairy, but the right kind of high quality dairy can be very healing and nutritious. The healthiest diets tend to include the widest variety of foods.
Although we're all biologically different and some people may thrive on a Paleo diet, I believe this way of eating is most effective (and safest) when done in the short term. If you follow Paleo and are experiencing any of the following, you may need to reevaluate your food choices:
Signs your Paleo diet needs correction:
- Cravings (desserts, coffee, dairy, salt, etc.)
- Weight gain
- Fatigue/low energy
- Poor digestion
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