Can the Paleo Diet Improve Your Health?

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

Paleo for the Modern Man and Woman

Of course, in a world of supermarkets and convenience, most people who adhere to this “ancient” nutrition plan aren’t out hunting and gathering their dinners.

Following the diet exactly as our ancestors did would mean barely eating on certain days, limiting the consumption of meat to when it’s available, and only eating foods grown within a reasonable foraging distance.

Instead, today’s paleo enthusiasts choose bits and pieces of the diet that fit into a more modern lifestyle.


You likely won’t find deer, pheasant and elk in a grocery store, but free range, organic chicken is fairly easy to get your hands on, says Masley.

Just be sure to read the labels. “Free range, certified organic” ensures you aren’t getting meats from animals that were fed hormones and antibiotics or fed a corn or grain diet.

And while not as easy to find as chicken and turkey, free range, grass-fed beef is another paleo-friendly option, and can be purchased at health food stores or directly from a local farm. And don’t forget to stock up on plenty of fruits, vegetables and nuts.

The Dairy and Grain Controversy

What about dairy and grains? Some of the controversy surrounding the diet centers on removing the two food groups entirely, which opponents say leaves the diet nutritionally unbalanced. They also argue the diet eliminates some really healthy foods, like yogurt, quinoa, beans and whole grain oats.

Missing some tasty and nutritious foods? Maybe. Nutritionally unbalanced? Not necessarily. Cordain says excluding grain and dairy actually increases the trace nutrient (vitamin, mineral and phytochemical) density in your diet because fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood, fish and grass produced meat and poultry contain greater vitamins and minerals overall than grains and dairy.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

In order to best complement a paleo eating plan with exercise, think survival.


“Our caveman and cavewomen ancestors did short, intense bursts of exercise, say, when a hungry saber tooth tiger chased them,” says Virgin. “And they lifted heavy stuff. So a paleo diet would probably also include weight resistance and high intensity interval training.” (This could explain why the diet is so popular among the CrossFit crowd.)

Humans were active six to 12 hours per day, and likely walked 10 or more miles per day, says Masley. So while you don’t need to jump into a bull ring and be chased for old times sake, in order to make eating paleo worthwhile, Masley recommends a minimum of one hour of brisk activity daily, with two or three weekly strength training sessions.

The Verdict

Dozens of studies over the past few years have examined the purported benefits of eating like our ancestors, many with promising results. It’s been found to be even more beneficial than the Mediterranean diet for people with type 2 diabetes by improving glucose tolerance.

The diet is also heart healthy, helping to improve cardiac risk factors like weight, BMI and blood pressure, a number of studies have shown. And when Swedish researchers looked at the effects of the diet on 10 obese, postmenopausal women, they found that the women ate 25 percent fewer calories and lost an average of 10 pounds over five weeks.

The women also saw improvements in BMI, waist to hip ratio, diastolic blood pressure and cholesterol. It also lowered levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood that can increase heart disease risk. While this was a small study of a very specific group of women, it did clearly produce positive results.

Of course, like any way of eating, you can take the paleo diet to extremes, says Virgin. But overall, if done properly, the diet can be very beneficial.


“When you eat a whole, unprocessed foods diet you’re not getting added sugars or preservatives and other junk that you’d get in processed foods,” she says. “You balance blood sugar levels, your body shifts into fat-burning mode, and you feel better when you eat this way.”

source: dailyburn