The Paleo Diet: Genuine Solution or Passing Fad
With obesity on the rise, the quest for weight loss is at an all time high. While there are dozens of diets on the market today, one that is gaining popularity rapidly is the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet. The Paleo diet also goes by the names cavemen, stone age, and warrior diet because the meal plan incorporates only foods that were available in the Paleolithic time period.
The theory is that, since human bodies haven’t changed much over the years, consuming the same foods that the cavemen ate is biologically the best thing possible in order to promote healthy living. Since there were no overweight cavemen 10,000 years ago, surely they must have been doing something right.
The Paleo diet requires dieters to eat as close to the cavemen as possible. This means doing away with dairy, sugar, salt, grains, and legumes and instead consuming only meat, poultry, fruits, vegetables, and shellfish. Since this is a drastic change to what the typical person consumes, many claim that the diet is just a fad and will not actually benefit the human body.
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While there haven’t been many studies done on the Paleo diet, many experts agree that the cavemen ate an extremely healthy diet. The abundance of meat with lack of salt and carbohydrates prevented developing what are now known as diseases of civilization, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease.
Unfortunately, the exact diet the cavemen followed is impossible to replicate due to modernization. Since those following the Paleo diet aren’t going to go out and kill their own game or forge for their own berries, dieters are stuck purchasing the food from their local grocery store (and missing out on the calorie-burning involved with traditional hunting and gathering). Many of the meats sold today contain a high amount of fat and sodium, and even the fruit and vegetables have been sprayed with chemicals. All these small changes make the diet less healthy.
For those who do plan to follow the Paleo diet, it’s highly recommended that all products bought are organic and that all meat is lean. This helps to eliminate the bad stuff that average person consumes on a daily basis. The downside to this is that the diet can become extremely expensive. Meat is already costly, but even more so when only the best type is purchased.
Another reason why experts consider the Paleo diet a fad is because it completely eliminates all dairy products and grains. In the past, there have been several other diets that mimic this behavior, such as the cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, and fruitarian diet. Even other less drastic diets, such as South Beach and Atkins, eliminate certain food groups which experts have found to be extremely unhealthy long term.
The Paleo diet in particular can be harmful because dieters are receiving no calcium or vitamin D. The cavemen got their vitamin D from being out in the sun all day, but unless dieters plan to live outside, this simply isn’t practical. The same is true for calcium. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that those who do choose to follow the Paleo diet take vitamin supplements to guarantee they’re getting the nutrients they need. On a non-fad diet, taking vitamins wouldn’t be needed since the dieter would get all their nutrients from food.
Another downside to the Paleo diet is that it’s impossible to maintain long term. The cost of organic food is simply too high, and even if dieters do have the money, the lack of variation paired with the lack of proper vitamins will only damage the body.