Paleo Diet is Good or Bad !
Popularized in France in the early 2000s, the paleo diet, which invites you to eat like prehistoric men, continues to appeal. We take stock of a diet that has become a way of life for some.
Did you think the Paleolithic was just a period of prehistoric times? It has become a real way of life. Summarized very briefly, the said way of life consists of eating like our hunter-gatherer ancestors. More than 10,000 years ago, then. The goal ? Preserve his health. What can we actually eat and not eat? Can we all adopt it? What does the scientific community think? We take stock of the paleo diet.
It was in the twentieth century, in 1975, that we spoke about the diet for the first time, with the work of the American gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin on the diet of Paleolithic men (from 3 million to 10,000 BC). .-VS). Ten years later, the American anthropologist Stanley Boyd Eaton also studied the subject by studying the genes of our ancestors. At the time, man eats what nature offers him. According to Dr. Eaton, our genes have not changed in 40,000 years, this diet would therefore be more suited to our genome, while the foods grown by humans since the appearance of agriculture would promote modern ailments: cancers, obesity, diabetes, etc. “By eating like our hunter-fisher-gatherer ancestors, we are returning to our biological codes from before”, indicates Marion Kaplan, bio-nutritionist and author of the book La Paleobiotique (1).
In 2001, Loren Cordain, professor emeritus in the Department of Health and Exercise Sciences at Colorado State University (United States), took up and popularized this theory with his book The Paleo Diet (2). He then becomes the founder of a movement that has become a real phenomenon across the Atlantic.
Meat and vegetables
The paleo diet allows only natural and unprocessed products; the meat , fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables are the basis. “We do not eat only meat, nuance Marion Kaplan addressing all those who criticize the diet for its high content of animal proteins . You can be paleo and vegetarian because there is a large share of fruits and vegetables. ”
However, the basis of the Paleo food pyramid is indeed composed of animal proteins. These must come from free-range animals or from organic farming. “We eat what animals eat, if they ingest genetically modified cereals we do so too, so we have to run away from them,” says Marion Kaplan.
Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, must be in season and obviously as little treated as possible. The top of the pyramid is made up of oilseeds (hazelnuts, walnuts etc.), salt, spices, herbs and dark chocolate, to be eaten in moderation. The only authorized sources of fat are animal fats, as well as olive, avocado, flax or coconut oils.
One of the originalities of this diet is the ban on all grains and legumes, whether organic, whole or not. “Cereals are too inflammatory and increase blood sugar levels (blood sugar levels) significantly. On the other hand, I recommend gradually reintroducing legumes and other gluten-free cereals sparingly, ”explains Marion Kaplan.
Dairy products are also banned with a tolerance for butter from grazing cows. “As they are produced now, these foods are allergens. If we can’t do without it, we can drink organic goat’s milk, ”suggests Marion Kaplan. Likewise, refined sugar, vegetable oils and all processed products like sodas or cold cuts are strictly prohibited.
Good to know: aware of the difficulty of becoming paleo overnight, founder Loren Cordain suggests in his book three steps to gradually modify your diet.
The plan’s objectives
Paleo is not a slimming diet . All these prohibitions are primarily aimed at improving health and all practitioners agree that this is a way of life to be kept forever. Few studies on the subject exist but followers highlight many benefits such as lowering bad cholesterol, diabetes, migraines and digestive problems, which would come from our excessive consumption of cereal and industrial products. We can witness weight loss but this is due to the fact that we feel full more quickly thanks to animal proteins.
The scientific community is cautious
Despite its popularity, this diet attracts a lot of criticism from scientists. In question, the conclusions on the diet of prehistoric man. Indeed, many anthropological studies, such as the one published in the American scientific journal Nature in 2012 , prove that hunter-gatherers ate more plants, leaves and fruits, rather than meat, the availability of which was too uncertain.
The emphasis on animal protein also runs counter to many nutritional recommendations that have emerged from work on the damage caused by excessive meat consumption. The latter is associated with an increased risk of diseases that the paleo diet is supposed to prevent, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and arthritis. The presence of animal proteins in the diet is also disputed by some followers: “The meat of the time was not that of today. It is essential to adapt the diet to modern life. In other words, you should eat little red meat, or in any case a quality product, ”adds Marion Kaplan.
As for cereals, they are an essential source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. The Cretan or Okinawan diet which gives pride of place to these foods are among the best examples of food in the world. Their absence in the paleo diet thus raises questions.
In 2014, the Association of British Dieticians ranked the paleo diet among the worst celebrity diets . While the organization approves the elimination of processed products and refined sugar, it believes there is no reason to ban other food groups at the risk of causing deficiencies. If, however, you were tempted, we recommend that you consult a doctor or a nutrition specialist to make sure that this diet is suitable for your condition.