Is the Paleo Diet Right for Me? 

Based on the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors who roamed the earth nearly 10,000 years ago, the Paleo Diet was developed and trademarked in 2002 by American scientist Dr. Loren Cordain. Proponents of the diet claim it has a positive effect on healthy weight management and the body’s natural inflammatory response, and it has been shown to diminish symptoms associated with some food allergies and sensitivities. But is “going Paleo” really a cure-all for chronic disease and obesity? We delved into the issue further by comparing the Paleo Diet to other popular diets, helping you make an educated decision about whether or not the Paleo Diet is right for you.

Basics of “Going Paleo”

Grass-fed meats, wild seafood, fresh organic produce and nut oils are the backbone of the Paleo Diet, and advocates for the diet believe that “straight from the earth” eating keeps the body healthy and strong. The Paleo Diet encourages the elimination of processed foods and anything “boxed, bagged, canned or jarred,” thus, removing all preservatives and artificial colors and flavors from your diet. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, up to 7% of people with allergies have been shown to have intolerances to food additives; adherence to the Paleo Diet ensures a significant reduction in exposure to these potentially harmful added ingredients. 

How the Paleo Diet Stacks Up

We compared the Paleo Diet to the Gluten-Free Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, and the Vegan Diet. Proponents of each plan claim health benefits like weight loss and increased energy and recommend limiting processed foods and refined grains, which have been shown to increase inflammation and heart disease. While the Vegan Diet limits all animal products including honey and some refined sugars, the Mediterranean Diet encourages the regular consumption of seafood and fish as well as small amounts of dairy, wine and poultry products. Both the Paleo and Gluten-Free diets recommend completely restricting processed foods, grains and refined sugars, which have been linked to numerous health problems including diabetes and cancer. The following chart further illustrates each diet plan as it compares to the Paleo Diet, and includes the potential health benefits for each.

We recommend reviewing your health needs with a professional to ensure that your new diet plan is safe for your current nutritional needs.

Diet

Foods to Eat

Foods to Avoid

Potential Health Benefits

Paleo Diet

19-35% protein including seafood & animal products high in omega-3 fatty acids

 

Grass-fed meats

 

35-45% non-starchy vegetables

 

Fiber from fruits and vegetables

 

Oils from olive, walnut, flaxseed macadamia & coconut

 

Grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugars, potatoes, processed foods, salt, alcohol, coffee & refined vegetable oils

 

Avoid any foods that are boxed, bagged, canned or jarred

 

Trans fats

 

Processed foods

Reduces inflammation (helpful for those with arthritis and joint pain)

 

Weight loss

 

Increased energy

 

Reduces gas and bloating

 

Lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes

 

Improved mood and mental clarity

 

Clearer skin

 

Improved sleep

Vegan Diet

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes and seeds

 

Protein from non-animal sources like soy

 

Non-dairy nut, soy or coconut milks

All animal products including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs & honey

Lowered cholesterol

 

Reduces the risk of diabetes, some forms of cancer, hypertension and heart disease

 

Thought to minimize chronic disease

Mediterranean Diet

 

Seafood, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, legumes, nuts, herbs and wine

 

Small amounts of meat, sugar, saturated fats & poultry

 

Red wine (small amount daily)

 

 

Refined breads and baked goods

 

Processed foods

 

Use olive oil instead of animal fats like butter and lard

 

Choose low fat dairy instead of full fat options

 

Protects against heart disease and stroke

 

Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s due to the high antioxidant levels

 

Increased longevity

 

Protects against Type 2 Diabetes