Nutritionists Question the Paleo Diet

Health professionals are starting to evaluate whether the "caveman diet" is truly a healthy option
Staff Writer

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

As the Paleo diet grows increasingly popular, many people have begun wondering whether or not a diet that advocates "eating like a caveman"” is truly good for your health.

The diet was introduced in 2002 by exercise physiology professor Loren Cordain and promotes eating simple foods like lean meats, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, and nuts while rejecting processed foods, refined sugars, and excessive salt, grains, and dairy.

The diet is named after the Paleolithic period and urges its followers to eat as their ancestors did 10,000 years ago in order to avoid Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, among other ailments. Certain Americans swear by the diet, also crediting it as a lifesaver that can alleviate persistent heartburn, albeit at an expensive cost.

Certain public health entities are objecting to the diet’s health claims, however, as the U.S. News & World Report ranked the paleo diet 28 out of the 29 currently popular diets. The report argued that replicating a caveman’s diet is impossible today, especially because the meat produced today bears little resemblance to the fresh game that was hunted 10,000 years ago.

Further, Alicia Fogarty, a nutritionist with Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte warns that people following the paleo diet need to make sure they are getting adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, which the diet’s dairy restriction can limit.

For a diet that imitates cavemen who lived by such simple means, it’s surprisingly expensive and thus not accessible to all socioeconomic groups.

In light of this research, nutritionists suggest that consumers take the core principles of the paleo diet — eating simple, whole foods as much as you can — without feeling the need to stick firmly to the diet’s restrictive, pricey guidelines. 

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