TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – What is the Paleo Diet?

Is it, as some have said, the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic!

Or is it a new diet fad that has come along in our newfound, gluten-free society?

I like to think it’s a little bit of both.

There are certainly benefits to utilizing specific parts of the Paleo Diet. But ultimately, as a whole, it’s a rather obtuse way to diet.

For starters, what is a Paleo Diet?

As The Huffington Post states, the assertion of a Paleo Diet is simple and straightforward. Diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease are illnesses “of civilization” and so, to combat the ill effects of the modern diet, we should return to a pre-civilization, hunter-gatherer diet of meat, fish, fruits and vegetables. That means all gains from the agrarian revolution — grains, dairy, legumes, salt and sugars — are off the menu. 

This is significant because whole grain oats, beans and other grain and legume sources of fiber have been found to help moderate cholesterol levels.

As Joy Dubost, a registered dietitian and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says:

“(The Paleo Diet) has eliminated several food groups like dairy and grains, which provide essential nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and phosphorus in dairy and B vitamins, fiber and antioxidants in grains. Legumes also provide a great protein source with little fat and lower in calories while providing essential nutrients and fiber.”

And while the Paleo Diet does cut out sugary, fatty and processed foods, one can do that without eliminating whole food groups or imitating the eating patterns of pre-agrarian ancestors.

The reason people ate like they did was because of food scarcity.

Plus, a scientific research study in late 2010 detected bits of plants, including cattail-like roots, on the grinding stones from 30,000-year-old archaeological sites in Italy, Russia, and the Czech Republic. They concluded that our ancestors were mixing the ground-up plants with water to make a pita bread of sorts.

Ultimately, it’s ok to cherry-pick bits of pieces from the Paleo Diet (as well as the Gluten-Free Diet), but completely eliminating whole food groups from one’s diet that provide necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals is not exactly the best idea.