Paleo Diet: friend or foe?

Paleo Diet photoBy: Abbey Bowen

When I was struggling with acne last semester, I kept looking for natural solutions online. One day, the “Paleo Diet” showed up on a Google search. I clicked it, and read all about this new diet that aims to mimic the dietary habits of a caveman.

The Paleo Diet, which was created by Dr. Loren Cordain, consists mainly of lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits and nuts.

According to thepaleodiet.com, eating like our caveman ancestors reduces the risk of several illnesses and diseases that currently plague Western civilization, such as:

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Acne
  • Myopia (nearsightedness), macular degeneration, glaucoma
  • Varicose veins, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, gastric reflux
  • Gout

To make a long story short, the Paleo Diet is similar to an organic, or all-natural, diet. The premise of the entire diet is to only consume foods that can be “hunted and gathered.” By following the dietary habits that Dr. Cordain has laid out, a person is supposed to maximize his or her vitamin, protein and fiber intake while lowering levels of sodium and carbohydrates.

Well, that’s all well and good, right? I’m not so sure.

Melody Churney, writer for “Foodsafetynews.com,” wrote an article titled “Don’t Eat Like a Caveman,” which compares the Paleo Diet to several other diet trends that are full of promises but really only allow for short-term weight loss and all around health.

Churney mainly slams Dr. Cordain for telling her followers to cut out whole grains from their diets.

“To set the record straight: whole grains (i.e. complex carbohydrates) do not make people fat or sick — assuming you stick to whole grains,” Churney argues. “Refined grains on the other hand are stripped of nutrients and fiber and are often enriched with a mere fraction of the nutrients they once possessed. Whole grains are an important part of a long-term, healthy diet. They provide ample doses of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.”

She also states legumes should not be removed from the diet of someone who desires to be healthy.

“Legumes are also an important part of a long-term healthy diet, and include foods like beans, peas, lentils, soy and peanuts,” she suggests. “Legumes are a nutritional powerhouse packed with fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, folate, magnesium and potassium.”

Later on in the article, she says point blank, “Any diet that advises against consuming whole grains and legumes is focused less on your health and more on selling books.” This statement is amusing because Dr. Cordain is, in fact, a New York Times Bestselling Author.

All in all, I am pretty conflicted with my opinion on the Paleo Diet. I agree with what Churney wrote when she said the diet is outdated because society has evolved so much from the time cavemen were alive. How can we say for certain that their diet is the optimal diet for us as well?

However, I do see how eating all natural can benefit your body and mind.

What do you think about the Paleo Diet?

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~Remember, you have to learn to love yourself before you can truly love someone else~

Abbey :]