Pros & Cons of the Paleo Diet

Fresh raw salmon fillets on cutting boardSeems hardly a day goes by, that I don’t hear of someone else who’s embarked on the Whole 30 diet, or ‘gone Paleo.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Paleo trend, it’s based on the concept that you’re going back to an ancestral diet – the way Nature intended you to be eating all along.

In other words, you’re eating the way your long-ago ancestors ate prior to the introduction of agriculture.

What this translates to – is that you’re foregoing many modern foods you’ve become accustomed to eating, in particular grains, legumes, and – depending on the plan you choose to follow – an absence of potatoes, alcohol and sugar.

If that seems overwhelming to you, I’ve been hearing over and over of the positive experiences people are having.

More energy. Less inflammation. Fewer aches and pains.

Of course, it’s natural for your body to feel better when you’re feeding it the whole foods you’re meant to be eating – rather than the highly refined and processed foods promoted so heavily, as part of the Standard American Diet.

Did you know the acronym for that is SAD? (I can’t think of anything that sounds more apt.)

While there are many variations of Paleo – some permit consumption of pseudo-grains such as quinoa, or buckwheat – the underlying premise remains the same. In short, it means planning your
meals around the following:

  • Grass-fed Meats
  • Pastured Eggs
  • Pasture-raised Poultry
  • Wild Fish & Seafood
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Organic Vegetables
  • Organic Fruit
  • Healthy Fats like Avocado, Ghee or Coconut

NOTE: With Autoimmune Paleo, or AIP, there are a few more restrictions, specifically geared toward putting autoimmune disease in remission, as you heal your gut.

For either scenario, resources and recipes abound on the internet, so I’ll let you do your own exploring.

Meanwhile, here are my personal observations – based on my own guiding principle “there’s no such thing as a One-Size-Fits- All Diet”.



You’ll be eating the way Nature intended

The beauty of a Paleo eating plan (I hate the word ‘diet’) – is that you’ll be eating the way humans were meant to eat.

Contrary to popular opinion, grains haven’t always been included in our diets.

Nor are they considered an essential nutrient – for the very reason that human beings have no pressing need for the carbohydrates they provide, unlike protein or fats.

Also significant, is the fact we didn’t begin to cultivate grains until about 10,000 years ago – a mere blip in our evolutionary history. Most experts agree that, prior to that time, our species thrived on meat (when available), nuts and seeds, berries, tubers and not much else.

This is what the Paleo movement seeks to re-instate.

It’s a simpler way of living and eating that brings you back to your roots.


You’ll Likely Feel Incredible

Whether Paleo, Whole 30, or a similar regimen – legumes and grains are eliminated outright.

The reason is simple and straight-forward – as they’re known to be highly inflammatory to ALL human beings.

So yes, you’ll be eating gluten-free by default.

And no surprise – by eliminating these inflammatory foods from your diet, you’ll likely feel amazing as a result!

I explain many of the principles behind this in my educational video series “A Gluten Primer – Everything You Wanted to Know From A-Z” – so be sure to check that out!

In a nutshell, this renewed sense of well-being is due in large part, to the lack of processed foods – which you likely know by now are full of refined flours, sugar and unhealthy fats.

And you’re replacing them with the nourishing foods your body craves.

At the same time, the QUALITY of your food choices also improves, as you replace farm-raised beef and pork with grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, pasture-raised chicken, and organic fruits and vegetables.

It’s an incredible bounty of choices.

And no worries – dessert is still allowed! (see comments below)


Your unresolved health issues could fall by the wayside

Did you know that there’s a whole colony of bacteria living inside your digestive tract?

It’s what we refer to as the microbiome.

And when your gut bugs are happy – your whole body is happy!

As things shift inside you, and you eradicate more of the ‘bad guys’ – because you’re eating so well – it makes perfect sense that many of your health issues will likely resolve as your body gets stronger and inflammation subsides.

Your weight could also stabilize, along with other biomarkers.

Granted, there might still have some lingering digestive issues (or other symptoms) – but even these should resolve over time.

Caveat: You didn’t get to this place overnight – so optimal health doesn’t happen without time and effort.

To that end, be sure you’ve put together a team of health professionals who have your best interests in mind – including a Health Coach for individualized attention and support!

All the more critical if you know you’re likely to lapse, and not follow through on your own.



You might thrive on less animal protein

This is where individuality really comes into play – since some people can literally thrive on large amounts of animal protein, while others need considerably less.

How do you know where you fall on the spectrum?

According to the life work of Dr. Nicholas Gonzales – and his recent book “Nutrition & the Autonomic Nervous System” – it’s your autonomic nervous system that regulates the needs of your body.

This isn’t some new-age thing – but rather turn-of-the-19th century mainstream medicine, with a fascinating history!

For simplicity’s sake, your autonomic nervous system has two arms – the parasympathetic (rest and digest)and the sympathetic (flight or flight).

If you’re more a ‘parasympathetic’ type, you’ll do well with lots of red meat, eggs and poultry. If it turns out you’re a ‘sympathetic’ type – your needs will be considerably less.

As with everything, listen closely to your body to see what’s working for YOU.


You’re eating too much sugar

From what I’ve gleaned, the Whole 30 program – which has helped countless people – does not limit your fruit intake.

And while whole fruit is undeniably preferable to sugar-laden treats, it can easily exceed what your body can handle.

True, the fiber in fruit helps to slow down the digestion of sugars, so your blood sugar isn’t impacted as quickly.

But it’s still sugar!

Don’t get me wrong – fruit is incredibly good for you in moderate amounts.

However, if you’re eating a lot of it, this could lead to unintended problems down the road – especially if you’re dealing with health concerns such as diabetes.

Consider too, that despite your best intentions – the endlessly creative dessert recipes – sweetened with Paleo-approved honey (my fave) or maple syrup, could also lead you astray.

So listen up, folks!

I love my treats as much as the next person – but do you really need dessert with every meal?


The diet mentality 

I get frustrated with the conversation around diets.

Sure, I get that you want to lose weight, or you’re dealing with various health issues – and you think that a certain diet will be the answer to your problems.

Truth is, it might work, or it might not – for the very reasons I mention above.

It isn’t possible to single out just one aspect of your health – such as your weight – without considering everything else going on in your life.

While food is a BIG part of your environment, toxic exposures to chemicals – whether in your food, your toiletries, or your environment at large, exercise, sleep and especially stress all play a role.

For lasting success – get off the ‘diet rollercoaster’.

Reframe this as your new lifestyle, not just a diet.


Final note

If you’re wondering about the added expense – since organic and grass-fed isn’t exactly cheap – let me ask you this:

What do you currently spend on healthcare?

If you could eliminate the middle man – i.e. your primary doctor, along with surgeries and medications – isn’t it worth a try?

Especially if you come away with renewed energy and a zest for life? (You don’t lose this because you’re getting older).

That’s your birthright – and it’s still yours for the taking!

To learn more, & receive the most up-to-date, in-depth information regarding all things related to Gluten SensitivityAutoimmune Disease, Inflammation & more – be sure to watch my educational video series “A Gluten Primer – Everything You Wanted to Know From A – Z“. It’s available FREE on my bi-weekly newsletter, but you can have immediate access to all 26 videos – plus a full, 2-hour Tutorial here.

Speak Your Mind