According to the paleo diet, nothing beats the diet of our distant ancestors in ancient times. But scientists are critical, pointing out that adherents of the diet risks long-term deficiencies in important nutrients and excessive fat intake.

According to adherents of the paleo diet, also called the primal diet, we are still genetically set on the diet of prehistoric man and therefore adhere better to it. Their menu mainly includes unprocessed foods such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, eggs, natural oil and nuts and seeds. The list of foods to avoid include salt, sugar, milk products, legumes, cereals and vegetables belonging to the nightshade family – such as potatoes, tomato, bell pepper, eggplant and peppers. There are different forms of the diet, some less strict. Proponents of the paleo diet believe it helps with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, among other things .

A shaky base

Scientists argue that the basis for the diet is, first, shaky and simplistic. For example, it is not yet sufficiently known how our prehistoric ancestors actually ate and there would be geographical differences, among other things. Research also suggests that our intestinal flora has evolved over the many centuries and is no longer equipped for Stone Age food.

A number of small studies suggest that the paleo diet may have a positive impact in the short term, for example by contributing to weight loss. However, the results vary and say nothing about the long-term effects. Because of the drastic choices you make to your diet, it can pose dangers to your health.

Risk of deficiencies

For example, the paleo diet advises adherents to ignore important food groups, which puts you at risk of certain deficiencies. For example, by avoiding milk products you can not get enough calcium, while this mineral is crucial to build and maintain strong bones. Cereals and potatoes are also out of the question, while these are excellent suppliers of energy and useful substances such as fiber (good for your intestines), vegetable proteins, vitamins and minerals. Legumes and vegetables from the nightshade family also contain all kinds of substances that are good for you.

Lots of fat red

Nutrition experts also find it problematic that there is no limit on the daily amount of meat in the paleo diet, which may cause you to consume more fats than is good for you. Too much red meat also increases your risk of colorectal cancer. The recommendation to cook with saturated fats, for example with butter and coconut fat, can also boost your cholesterol and thus increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Little scientific evidence

While you can find many positive testimonies about the paleo diet on the internet, experts conclude that there is little scientific evidence for such claims and that radically following this diet can harm your health in the long run. They therefore recommend following the advice of the feeding triangle.

Stephan Meed

A southern gentleman at heart, Stephan is a man you'll find mudding, off-roading, and fishing on a typical weekend. However, a nutritionist by profession, he is also passionate about fitness and health through natural means. He writes mostly health-related content for the Scientific Origin.