What is Paleo Diet?

Paleo diet or Paleolithic diet is modern age fad diet. Since the main food varieties in this type of food is considered similar to the fad diet consumed by humans of Paleolithic era or Stone Age it is called paleo diet. Since the diet system refers to food items consumed by early humans of that era, paleo diet is also called caveman diet or Stone Age diet.

Paleo diet is interpreted in many ways by adopting different standards. The presumption of the advocates of paleo diet is that the digestive system of the humans have remained the same since humanity was born to till date. This presumption is totally incorrect as over these millions of years from the Paleolithic era human anatomy has undergone enormous changes and the digestive system has also changed significantly. With this premise in mind we should look into this modern paleo diet to evaluate its benefits or otherwise.

What is included and excluded in Paleo?

Paleo diet, as the nomenclature suggests, is typically based on fruits, nuts, vegetables, roots and meat which were the only food of early humans. In addition to these inclusions, it excludes grains, legumes, sugar, salt, processed oil, alcohol or coffee and all dairy products. In other words the food consumed by early humans were available in nature and hunted but were not cultivated or grown. It is because neither agriculture nor animal husbandry were in vogue then.

Paleo diet is becoming more popular these days because it is recommended as a remedy against obesity and overweight.


This form of diet do not require counting the calorie intake but monitoring the food items that one consume. In the process based on the high fiber and low calorie food items that occupy a dominant position in the whole diet eventual weight loss can be achieved. The risk is that it may lead to malnutrition and anemia too. How judiciously one is able to balance the type of paleo diet is the moot point. Before we discuss the benefit of paleo diet we may get a view of the food items included and excluded in this form of diet.

List of items included:

  • Almonds pistachios, walnut and cashew nut, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Non-starchy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
  • Fresh fruits and eggs
  • Oils which are plant based, like walnut oil, olive oil, grape seed oil and coconut oil.
  • All types of sea food including fish
  • Lean meat from chicken, bison, pork, turkey and beef
List of items excluded:
  • All grains like rice, wheat, barley, and oats
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and their products
  • Peanuts and soy and food prepared with them
  • Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream
  • High fat meats from various animals
  • All types of processed foods with sweet or salt
  • All forms of sugar, raw or added.

To sum up a paleo diet seeks to completely avoid the modern food habits including consumption of fast foods. All packaged food are avoided. Raw food is preferred to cooked food.

Paleo diet and weight loss

Generally Mediterranean diet is considered healthier to western diet. Likewise as the paleo diet has similarities of Mediterranean diet is advised as healthy. But the absence of dairy products in paleo cause calcium and vitamin D deficiency leading to unhealthy and weak bones.  As the calorie intake is reduced in this diet weight loss can be a natural fall out.

What is the flip side?

But such weight loss is accompanied by malnutrition and weakness and some other health issues like diarrhea and headache. It is found out by scientists that the weight loss achieved by paleo diet is only temporary that too with side effects.

Paleo diet is rich in protein but a low carb diet. While it facilitate strengthening of muscles it leads to lowering of energy level of the body. This also leads to weight loss in a healthy way.

Exclusion of sugar, salt, grains and starchy vegetables and products made of them in paleo diet can definitely help type2 diabetics as a natural consequence. But the side effect of malnutrition and weakness may be detrimental.

In fact many items excluded by paleo diet is good for health. For examples the nutrients present in legumes, grains and dairy products are essential to prevent osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases.

Any fad diet is recommended more as a fashion as if it can save the body from all sorts of health issues.

But it is not so. The dietician of modern medicine prescribes a balanced diet in order to provide the daily required amount of all vitamins and minerals in addition to energy needed to keep the body healthy.

This form of diet is based on the premise that our ancestors were living far more healthily without resorting to modern food. But the fact remains that the longevity of humans have now better average than yester centuries. Historical records available suggests that the mortality rate of humans was very low in those days as many ills suffered by them were neither detected nor treated.

Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.