This could be the shortest article ever! If you have read anything on this site, you know how much I love Paleo. It offers so many advantages and really has little downside. However, some of you might not be as keen as me.
Perhaps you are just doing your first research on this way of eating. If so, you may have found some negative opinions out there (hey, the internet is a crazy place, right?) Hopefully, I can set your mind at rest about the real health benefits of Paleo and show just where some of the criticism might fall short.
Perhaps it makes sense to offer a definition of paleo at this point. To me (and many others) Paleo is a return to the eating habits of our Paleolithic ancestors. Essentially, we are eating like cavemen. This is in line with what our genetics say we should eat. We aren’t adapted to modern, processed foods and so they shouldn’t be any part of our diet. By keeping things simple and going back to our roots, we are avoiding many health problems.
From this definition, health is at the heart of this system. However, some people have pointed the finger at Paleo and said that it really isn’t as healthy as I make it out to be. Let’s have a look at a couple of those claims made about is Paleo healthy or not.
Critics say that Paleo is too restrictive and therefore too hard to sustain. After a while, you are bound to fall off the wagon. Well, besides this having nothing to do with the healthiness (or not) of the diet, it is in my experience, not the case. Paleo is great for re-training our habits. The longer we do it, the easier it becomes because we stop craving all the bad stuff. And besides, should it really be easy? Look at the number of overweight people suffering from a range of diseases and afflictions. Maybe it is time for a little sacrifice to get things back on track!
The second arrow that is often fired toward Paleo is the accusation it is a high-fat diet. Fat makes up a significant percentage of calories. However, that doesn’t make it bad. We have been brainwashed into thinking fat is bad. This isn’t the case. Fat is essential – you can’t live without it. Getting in fat from things like fatty fish or meat is really a good thing. Are we seriously saying it is worse than trans fats from chips and burgers fried in cheap, low-grade oil? Really?
There is nothing wrong (and everything right) with getting in some healthy fat. It promotes the production of important hormones (such as testosterone for men) and keeping things like skin and hair healthy and looking good. No one is saying that you should just eat fat but stop believing the hype about all fat being bad.
This one is a little more controversial. Strictly speaking, paleo says no to all grains, legumes and dairy products. The logic is that these weren’t part of our ancestors’ diets and we don’t digest them properly. This varies from person to person. For example, I tend to be fine with limited dairy (but not milk) and some grains. Other grains are a definite no-go area for me and lead to infections, coughs and poor skin.
Other people are better off avoiding all this stuff altogether. However, let’s not drown in the details. If you are eating a little of these things because you have found through trial and error they work for you, that’s fine. There is absolutely no doubt that eating things made from processed white flour is a bad idea for everyone. Doing strict Paleo is much more healthy than a diet heavy in refined carbs typical in today’s world.
So, is Paleo healthy? Paleo isn’t unhealthy. For some people, it can be over-restrictive, but really, a diet rich in natural protein sources, fruit and vegetables is great and should be the basis of anyone’s approach to a healthy lifestyle.