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LuckyGuy's avatar

Why is the "Paleo diet" supposed to be healthy?

Asked by LuckyGuy (29422 points ) January 16th, 2014

The Paleo diet is modeled after the foods that early man had available: meats, fruits, no processed foods, etc… the foods that were around 20,000 years ago. The foods we evolved to digest.

Why is that supposed to be healthy? What was the life expectancy of a Paleo man? Didn’t they get much more exercise than we do today? Should the Paleo diet also require more exercise and living in an uncontrolled temperature environment as well?
I don’t get it. What am I missing?

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14 Answers

Seek's avatar

Yes, it does expect exercise. The Paleo diet does really well for young men who run a lot and do high intensity sports like Parkour and Ultimate Frizbee.

Less well for women because we tend to have gallbladder issues more often. Actually, my first gallbladder attack happened while I was experimenting with Paleo.

It’s supposed to be healthy because – duh – nature loves us and wants us to be happy. Ignoring that poisonous mushrooms, rattlesnakes, and arsenic are all natural. It’s pretty much bullshit.

WestRiverrat's avatar

It is like any other diet, it will benefit some people, harm some people, and have little effect on most people.

talljasperman's avatar

If the Paleo diet asks to eat more fiber and more clean water could help most people, than I’m for it.

Seek's avatar

One of the problems Paleo runs into is a lack of roughage. No wheat, no rice, no barley, no corn, no grains at all.

Also, eating a mostly meat, egg, and fresh vegetable diet is redonkulously expensive. The fasting days are the only way to save money. Yes, they recommend fasting.

Buttonstc's avatar

I haven’t studied it in depth but it looks quite similar to Atkins. And I don’t think either are that healthy in the long run.

I see the term “Paleo” as more of a marketing gimmick than anything else.

The main thing that’s good about it is that it eschews all processed foods and that’s a good thing.

But Michael Pollan achieves the same result by advising the avoidance of processed crap by giving a rough guideline of “If your Grandarents or Great Grandparents would not have been familiar with it or recognize it as food, leave it alone.”

This eliminates a lot of the over processed crap of things like Gogurt (little squeezable plastic tubes of yogurt designed to appeal to kids and people on the go and touting the health benefits of yogurt). Gogurt is anything but healthy. Its crap disguised with a thin veneer of “healthy” and it fails Pollans simple test hands down.

ETpro's avatar

It’s difficult to just guess the benefits. It is modeled to be close to what we evolved to eat, and in that respect should be healthy. But we need to bear in mind that anyone making it to the ripe old age of 30 in those days was a village elder. Certainly, omitting processed foods and factory food is something we all can profit from. But whether a strict Paleo diet is better for our health than a diet put together by a competent modern nutritionist is something only a large study could tell us.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Unless you are eating wild game and not the fatty meat most of us eat it’s probably not that healthy.

glacial's avatar

You’re not missing anything. Why the “paleo diet” is stupid:

The light version

The slightly heavier version

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Diet is not the only factor involved with longevity. Just sayin. Long ago, if teeth rotted, wore down, or got knocked out, people starved to death, unless someone loved them enough to chew food for them. They also didn’t have heating and cooling at the touch of a button. They had only the medicines they managed to find and try in various ways. If they had Obamacare, their lives might have been tripled. (That last comment was mostly for @josie.)

ccrow's avatar

@glacial thanks for those links; the second one especially was very interesting.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@glacial Thanks for that informative reference in Scientific American. That was how I thought about it but I figured I must be missing something. I guess I’m not.
I wish I could give you more than 1 GA!

Darth_Algar's avatar

It would probably be fine if you lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Now how many people on this diet are going to leave modern society in favor of living like the San bushmen?

Adagio's avatar

@Buttonstc ”…Gogurt (little squeezable plastic tubes of yogurt…” Sounds absolutely disgusting.

I know nothing about the paleo diet I’m afraid.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I see no sense in copying what we think is a diet practiced by people who rarely lived beyond 40 years old. If it’s longevity you want, you’d be better off living on white bread smeared with lard. If it’s quality of life you’re after, eat your vegies and fruits, keep the carbs complex and at around 50 to 70% of your diet, and eat lean animal meat without guilt. Fish is good for you. And above all, stay active (you have to burn those carbs or you will store them as fat!)—work out, or cycle, swim, run, hike, kayak, or do something everyday to burn up the energy you take in. And do your yoga—it’s as good for your head as it is your body—at least do the pranas and meditation (best parts). And don’t worry so much about everything. At any moment something totally out of your control can take you out, so enjoy what you have right now—with a wise eye to the future. There is really no trick to this and it doesn’t require the purchase of a book.

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