Diet fashions are primed with bombastic concepts. The "paleodieta", diet "paleo" or "evolutionary diet" is one of those examples of striking names. But does it make sense in terms of health?
This nutritional pattern is relatively new, despite its "archaic" premise, rather fictional. Let's see what values can contribute to our metabolism, the evidence that supports it (or not) and what could be negative.
Paleo or evolutionary diet, what is it about?
This dietary pattern arises from the idea that our ancestors gatherers and hunters fed better than us, about 12,000 years ago. This ambiguous and unclear concept is what dominates all the preparation of nutritional recommendations coined by Dr. Loren Cordain, Professor of Health and Exercise Science at the State University of Colorado and first promoter of this diet.
In 2010, Cordain published a book where he presented his hypotheses about it. Since then, the attention of athletes, nutritionists or people worried about their health has been increasing, giving it enough fame. According to the Paleo diet described by Cordain, strictly, our diet should be based on the consumption of whole foods such as eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, tubers and lean meats.
The paleodiet excludes food processed (both good and bad) as well as cereals, simple sugars and legumes, grains and dairy products. On these precisely, doctors Weston A. Price and Mark Sisson added the possibility of using dairy products whenever they were raw, never pasteurized, so this expands the possibilities, although it is still a limited diet.
A characteristic of the Paleo diet is that it greatly reduces the intake of carbohydrates and is balanced with the consumption of fats and proteins. For this detail, the Paleo diet and others such as ketogenic overlap in terms of the foods to choose, reducing the amount of hydrates and relying, above all, on proteins and fats. The following issue is clear: Do you have any benefits?
What science says about the paleo diet
An interesting investigation, carried out by the Department of Health and Clinical Medicine of Sweden, shows the benefit of using the paleo diet in older and obese women. This could show some long-term benefits, although it is important to understand that we may not be able to extrapolate the results for all people, but only for obese people.
On the other hand, according to a study on the metabolic and physiological impact of this diet, published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Paleo diet is attributed several beneficial effects on glucose control. Also found among its results was a reduction in blood pressure as a result of better elasticity of the arteries and improved the amount of lipids in the blood, even without changing the body weight.
This coincides with studies conducted by the universities of Bakersfield and Ohio, which also showed the possible benefit in healthy adults, in whom positive changes in body composition such as weight and body fat reduction were observed. However, it should be noted that, although the results seem promising, research also has its "shadows."
Specifically, and in the wake of the fame that the Paleo diet has gained, several experts have delved deeper into their nutritional implications by conducting broader meta-analyzes. Some examples, such as those of Tanis and Carol Fenton, of the University of Calgary, in Canada, highlight numerous widespread methodological flaws in the vast majority of research on the paleo diet and its impact on metabolic syndrome, which implies that we cannot trust 100% of your results. In general, all the most modern studies affirm that this nutritional pattern has been attributed an excessive benefit, and that more studies are needed to be able to specify.
The bad side of the evolutionary diet
If we look at the other side of the coin, we will come across a not so positive aspect about the Paleo diet. Moreover, this could warn us of some potential dangers related to adopting this nutritional pattern. And is that This diet has an exclusion component that can be negative. For example, it excludes legumes and cereals from the diet, when these, especially legumes, are an important source of vegetable proteins, vitamins and fiber.
Together with cereals, which are a source of essential, low-fat and very healthy amino acids, dairy products are also eliminated. These, although not indispensable, can be a good source of calcium and vitamin D, among other nutrients of high biological value and, nevertheless, the paleo diet excludes them.
One of the most tricky issues related to this diet is the emphasis on the consumption of lean meats. As the WHO announced, the consumption of red meat has been associated with a higher probability of suffering from cancer or even other diseases. This study, from the Bethesda Cancer Genetics and Epidemiology Division, marks the association between different types of meat, their consumption and the substances present in them. In addition, the study is quite robust, having analyzed more than 500,000 cases.
But, in short, restrictive diets have shown that they can have a very negative influence on health of people. The Paleo diet, if we take it to the extreme or without stopping to evaluate it properly, can become a restrictive diet. Therefore, could the damages overlap the benefits? In itself, the Paleo diet has no harm per se. But that does not imply that, in reality, they do not exist. At the moment it seems as effective as other means to lose weight, although potentially more dangerous. Of course, it all depends on how we deal with it, of course.