**The first thing we want to make clear is that this is not an article against Paleo. Not in the least bit. When you read through it, you’ll realize that.
The Paleo diet has been catapulted into mainstream media mainly by the CrossFit community that embraces this type of diet plan. Whenever any diet gets public attention- it seems that almost everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try. If you’re not following the truest form of Paleo- it most certainly could be toxic to your body. Here’s why.
First- what is Paleo? Simply put- the diet advises that followers eat only food that were around during the Paleolithic era. Nothing processed, refined, chemically treated, genetically modified, etc. In large part, this diet consists of grass produced meats, nitrite/nitrate free bacon, fish, fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs, healthy oils and very few acceptable forms carbohydrates (yams are ok). Grains, sugar, dairy (butter, cheese, etc), refined pastas, white flour, etc are not on the Paleo diet.
The Problem With Paleo
The problem we see with most people that choose to follow the Paleo diet is they neglect to truly adhere to the guidelines which call for grass fed beef, natural/organic meats and produce that are free from antibiotics and the nitrite/nitrate free bacon. Instead, you have people following Paleo eating large amounts of chicken and beef from Walmart (nothing against Walmart- but their meats are not advertised to be organic or free of antibiotics), Oscar Mayer Weiner bacon, etc.
So what’s wrong with that??? What’s the big deal if people don’t choose the organic meats like Paleo says???
If you’re eating a mostly meat based diet- you are consuming a higher amount of animal fat. When animals consume toxins, from antibiotics, pesticides in the grass they eat, or from other environmental factors, these toxins get stored in their fat. When you eat animal fat you are then consuming and storing some of these toxins. This is why Paleo recommends grass fed/hormone free meats. As far as bacon goes- this is LOADED with animal fat and potentially full of toxins. Not to mention bacon (and cold cuts, hot dogs, etc) is loaded with nitrates and nitrites, proven causes of cancer.
Compromised Lymphatic Drainage
In the digestive system, animal foods high in fat will first be transported via your lymph system. These saturated and toxic fats can clog up your lymphatic drainage system, making it work harder and possibly overloading it and making the system less efficient at doing its general cleaning up process for the body. Researchers have theorized that this is one possible reason why there are more incidences of cancer among meat eaters than in vegans.
If you’re not following a well-rounded Paleo diet and you are just overloading yourself on bacon and meat, you’re lymphatic system, and your health, is going to pay the price.
Too Little Activity, Too Much Protein
The Paleo diet is best suited for individuals who do enough physical activity that their bodies can utilize the large amounts of protein consumed. An average person only needs about .5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. An active person could consume .75-1.0 gram of protein per body weight. And a super active person could consume up to 2 grams of protein per body weight. If you are not active- your body does not need that much protein. Eating too much protein can lead to a host of health problems and imbalances within your internal systems including kidney problems and acne. You have probably seen guys at the gym with acne on their face, back and chest. There is a chance that this is because of too much protein. This excerpt from LiveStrong explains it perfectly:
…protein is essential to life and health, yet balance is a key component of optimal health. If huge quantities of protein are ingested, the body’s digestive system, from the liver to the kidneys and into the intestines and colon, will become extremely burdened trying to break down these proteins into usable material. This extreme stress on valuable cleansing organs will create adverse reactions within other parts of the body. Whenever an organ or system within the body is burdened or stressed, the body will naturally respond through elimination of toxins through the skin…
In Summary- Our View of Paleo
Our view is that the Paleo diet- when strictly followed- can be a healthy meal plan for those who are active enough to consume large amounts of protein and for those who can adhere to the organic/natural meats, fruits and veggies. (It’s important to note that you don’t have to eat high protein just because you are on a Paleo diet, but many people do)
We also think Paleo is a great way to cleanse the body of toxins and refined foods. In fact, we even offer a 2 week Paleo cleanse program at UFZ.
If you want to follow a certain meal plan because you heard that it helps people lose weight, you have to first consider a few things:
1) Is this diet right for my lifestyle?
2) Can I fully adhere to the guidelines of the diet long-term?
And of course- always check with your doctor first! Reading an article about the Paleo diet and deciding it is for you could be dangerous. Your doctor knows your healthy history, your family health history and whether or not certain diets would be safe for you to follow.
What are your thoughts on the Paleo diet?
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