Despite health claims for eating like our ancestors, the Paleo diet causes more harm than good, removing essential food groups and causing potential damage to your kidneys and liver.
You’ve probably heard about the Paleo diet; maybe you’ve even tried it. This primal eating trend is everywhere, encouraging us to eat like our ancient ancestors did. Paleo proponents argue, to be healthier, leaner, stronger and fitter, we must re-think our diet and remove some of the food groups we consider basic.
Promising everything from fat loss, to more energy, and clearer skin, Paleo certainly has its appeal. However, the insanely popular Paleo diet, which shuns dairy, legumes, grains, and processed junk foods in favor of nuts, meat, fruits, and vegetables, has some seriously fatal flaws (no pun intended).
While it is true that caveman got their nutrients from plants, seeds, and animals, the true caveman diet consisted of eating other people!
Does Paleo Mean Eating Other People?
Researchers at the University of Tübingen in Germany found that Neanderthals had a taste for human bones and meat. The study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that cannibalism dates back as far as 45,000 years ago.
Neanderthal remains discovered in France and the Iberian Peninsula bear cut marks, as well as percussion indentations that show the bones were crushed on purpose to extract the marrow.
These indications allow us to assume that the Neanderthals practiced cannibalism. The many remains of horses and reindeer found in Goyet were processed the same way.
A study published in 2009 suggested that humans (Homo Sapiens) ate the species to extinction. Neanderthals met a violent end at the hands of Homo Sapiens, and in some cases, we ate them.
This is just one of the many flaws of the Paleo Diet.
Read on about The Do’s and Don’ts of the Paleo Diet…
The Do’s and Don’ts of the Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet returns to the meat and produce-based diet of our ancestors, encouraging us to eat only the following:
- Animals (including organs, bone marrow, cartilage, and organs)
- Animal products (such as eggs or honey)
- Vegetables and fruits
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Fats (like coconut oil, avocado, butter, ghee)
Paleo avoids grains, legumes, dairy, heavily processed oils (such as canola and soybean oil), and processed foods in general.
What’s wrong with grains and legumes?
It’s a no-brainer that processed foods and treats aren’t good for us — but what about whole grains and legumes?
Proponents of Paleo say we shouldn’t eat legumes because they are full of anti-nutrients like lectins and phytates. Supposedly that reduces their nutritional value, but the research suggests that the benefits of legumes outweigh their anti-nutrient content. Cooking eliminates most anti-nutrient effects, and some anti-nutrients (like lectins) may even be good for us.
Paleo proponents say grains can lead to inflammation and related health problems. However, this is only for people with celiac disease (about 1 percent of the population) and for those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
There is a lot of reliable research suggesting that eating whole grains in moderation increases our overall health. Based on these linked studies, the consensus is neutral on whole grains contributing to inflammation.
Due to the health benefits of these foods, it would be a bad idea to completely eliminate them from our diets.
Read on about the flaws of the Paleo Diet…
The Flaws of Paleo
Although the Paleo diet focuses on whole foods, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats, the Paleo diet has some serious flaws. The evolutionary arguments don’t hold up and there is not enough proof as to why we should exclude dairy, legumes, and grains.
The biggest problem with Paleo is that it tells people to follow a list of good foods and bad foods. This causes people to form a bad relationship with food and feel guilty for eating a bad food. It also ignores individual health conditions, other food sensitivities and makes a grand generalization on what the population should be eating.
Each person needs to learn their body and choose foods that react well with their unique gut microbiomes. Paleo forces people in a cookie-cutter diet approach and that never works.
Even more, long-term, it’s extremely difficult to be consistent on a strict diet regime like Paleo. That’s why it’s a fad diet; people can follow it for weeks or maybe even months. But years or decades are unlikely.
If you are not consistent, you can’t make progress.
A Healthy Lifestyle Means Flexibility
Instead of going all-in for a strict, temporary diet, try making small, realistic changes you can keep for life. Let’s keep evolving, not de-evolving!
Here are some ways you can incorporate the caveman lifestyle into your day.
- Eat whole foods: add some fresh fruit or vegetables to any meal
- Cut out some processed food (not all of it, just some)
- Get outside and go for a walk
- Get a good night’s sleep by turning off electronics 1 hour before bed
Taking small steps, consistently, will benefit your health and well-being for life! Consistency is more important than any food list or evolutionary theory.