How Safe Is Your Primal Diet?
It’s time to ask yourself this question: “Is it safe for me?”
If your answer is yes, then congratulations! You’re doing something right. But if your answer is no, then you need to do some research into what exactly you are eating and how much of it. And don’t forget to take precautions against potential dangers like toxins or even viruses.
The Paleo Diet is a very popular way of eating that was created by Loren Cordain back in the 1970s. It’s based on the idea that humans have always eaten meat and animal products since our ancestors lived in Africa thousands of years ago. The main reason why people started eating processed foods instead of real food was because they were cheaper and easier to make than raw ingredients.
Nowadays, there are many different versions of the Paleo Diet out there. Some recommend cutting out all grains and legumes while others say that you shouldn’t eat any at all. There are also other variations such as the South Beach Diet, which recommends limiting your intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of calories and cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day (which is still high).
Other diets include vegetarianism or veganism.
“The paleo diet claims that our human genetic makeup has remained unchanged since the Paleolithic era, and that because we evolved as a hunter-gatherer, we are better adapted to eat the foods available at that time – lean meat, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, roots, and nuts. The paleo diet is an attempt to replicate the way our pre-agricultural, pre-Industrial Revolution ancestors ate. Proponents of the diet state that because our genetics have not changed, eating this way helps promote health and reduce risk of disease.
“It is important to note that the claims made in this diet are not supported by scientific evidence. The concept of our genetic makeup remains the same since the Paleolithic era is highly contested among scientists. In fact, diet and activity patterns have changed drastically over that period, and many people in the agricultural and industrial eras did not have access to the foods recommended in this diet.”
The reason why we’re focusing on paleo here is because of all of its various incarnations. Even if it were entirely fictional, we have to give it credit for getting people to eat more vegetables. But in order to avoid unnecessary suffering and save lives, we need to pay attention to what people are actually eating rather than get distracted by what they’re supposedly capable of eating.
The truth is that humans have only been eating meat for about 6,000 years (give or take). That’s a pretty short amount of time in evolutionary terms. And while our bodies have adapted to eating meat, that doesn’t mean that we’re designed to eat the kind of meat that’s abundant in today’s society.
Take pigs for example. They’ve actually only been domesticated for about 6,000 years as well (which coincidentally is about the same time frame that humans started eating them). But they’ve only been bred to be as fat as they are today in the past couple of decades.
So what has this got to do with eating plants?
Well, it’s pretty clear that we like eating meat and animal products as a species. But we didn’t always have that luxury. For most of our existence, the amount of meat that was available to us was limited due to lack of technology.
And then along came farming.
“The hunter-gatherer diet is a modern dietary concept, which includes only wild plants and animals (including fish) that can be hunted and gathered. It excludes all domesticated animals (including farmed fish), as well as all domesticated plants (including farmed mushrooms). The diet also excludes foods derived from modern agricultural practices, such as dairy products, cereals, legumes, refined sugars and oils.”
This diet is the most restrictive of all those that are included in this list. There is no scientific evidence to support the claims that such a diet can prevent disease and promote optimum health.
The Paleo diet is a hunter-gatherer diet, meaning it’s based on the types of foods a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer would have eaten. The premise is that our genetics haven’t changed much since the Stone Age, and so neither need our diets. Therefore, the diet avoids dairy products, legumes, refined sugar, salt, grains, and holds that we should eat more animal protein and a lot of fruits and vegetables.
The primal diet also suggests that you should exercise more and stress less. They make some solid arguments, but again, the problem comes back to evidence. It’s very difficult to prove that the paleo lifestyle promotes health and reduces risk of disease.
We can only infer it from the evidence available.
So what does the evidence say about these diets?
Primitive diets, such as those listed above have been linked with some health benefits. For example, studies show that people who eat a paleo diet tend to be thinner than those on a standard American diet (even when they eat the same number of calories).
They’ve also been linked with reductions in risk for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.
But there’s not enough evidence to say whether these benefits are due to what’s excluded from these diets (processed food, grains) or the fact that these diets commonly lead to weight loss or that they include lots of fruits and vegetables.
In fact, many studies suggest that any diet that leads to weight loss will have similar health benefits.
There’s also not enough evidence to say that these diets will prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It’s true, the risk is lower for people on certain diets, but it’s impossible to prove that the diet itself is making the difference.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A lot of fad diets make bold claims about their health benefits but don’t have real scientific evidence to back them up.
Gluten-free, AIP, and Paleo diets are trendy right now, but they still exclude many foods that can be part of a healthy diet.
For most people, it’s best to follow the advice of most dietitians and doctors: Eat a well-balanced diet based on federal dietary guidelines. This will help you get all the vitamins and minerals you need. It’s also proven to promote weight-loss and reduce your risk of many diseases.
The next time you’re thinking about going on a new diet, check first to see if there’s any evidence that it works and what that evidence is.
You may also want to consider whether or not a diet is compatible with your lifestyle and can be maintained long-term.
If it’s too hard or there isn’t any evidence that it works, you’re probably better off sticking with what you’re already doing.
The best diet is the one you can stick to.
If you have celiac disease or just want to eat fewer grains, a gluten-free diet might be right for you.
There’s no evidence that people without celiac disease or gluten sensitivity benefit from avoiding gluten.
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye.
People who have celiac disease have an immune reaction to gluten, which damages the lining of the small intestine.
This can prevent the small intestine from absorbing nutrients from food, leading to a variety of symptoms.
People with celiac disease must follow a gluten-free diet for life. Over time, the intestinal damage can lead to serious complications, including osteoporosis, infertility, and certain types of cancers.
A gluten-free diet is the only treatment available.
A few other health conditions may be helped by avoiding gluten. These include:
– Dermatitis herpetiformis: It’s a itchy skin rash often found in people with celiac disease.
– Sprue-like disorder: Another name for this condition is gluten intolerance. There’s some debate about whether or not it’s the same as celiac disease or a milder form of the disease.
– Some types of wheat allergies
– Irritable bowel syndrome
– Diabetes (especially when linked to neurological problems)
– Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and thyroid disease
Gluten is found in many grains other than wheat, including barley and rye. If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance it’s important to avoid these grains as well.
In addition to consulting a doctor, people following a gluten-free diet often also need to get a regular blood test to check for low vitamin levels.
Some celebrities and athletes endorse gluten-free diets to their fans and followers, claiming that this diet will lead to weight-loss or better performance when competing.
The truth is, there’s no evidence that avoiding gluten alone will result in weight-loss. As long as you’re eating fewer calories than you need, you’re likely to shed pounds.
Gluten-free foods may be more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts, so you might end up spending more money without meaning to.
An unhealthy choice based on a gluten-free fad might leave you with a less balanced diet than one that includes breads, pasta, and other gluten-containing products.
There’s no scientific evidence that a gluten-free diet improves athletic performance. In fact, some studies suggest the opposite.
Sources & references used in this article:
How Safe Is Your Primal Diet? by C Harvey – breakingmuscle.com
Supernormal stimuli: How primal urges overran their evolutionary purpose by HG Were’Healthier
How Long Does It Take Get Rid of Sugar Cravings After Going Keto? by M Reilly – 2012 – Da Capo Lifelong Books
Free-range kids, how to raise safe, self-reliant children (without going nuts with worry) by D Barrett – 2010 – books.google.com