In Some Respects, Research Contradicts the Paleo Diet

November 12, 2012

In Some Respects, Research Contradicts the Paleo Diet

Familiar with the paleo diet? Then you know this diet excludes grains and legumes. Do you think this is okay?

If you’re somewhat familiar with the paleo diet, you may have noticed some controversy. No matter what diet you look at, there appears to be problems. Really, who’s right and who’s wrong. Actually, it’s just not that simple. The paleo dieters insist on avoiding all grains simply because early man didn’t eat them. This is coming from modern day agriculture so we didn’t evolve to eat this. According to the paleo diet we should be eating lean animal protein such as birds and fish and other wild games. Natural vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds are acceptable. Simply put diary, legumes and grains are strictly off the menu. The paleo diet believes that these foods are the cause of many diseases simply because we have not adapted to them. The paleo diet believes in adhering to natural whole foods that are unprocessed that our not so distant ancestors ate. It’s difficult to argue the point, however as far as wild games goes, most people won’t touch it due to it’s gamey flavor. Not only that, there can be many parasites associated with venison that are deadly. These parasites are certainly not found in animals that have been raised by man.

The Paleo Diet and Exclusion of Grains and Legumes

At present the paleo diet looks fine accept for the exclusion of grains and legumes. Many cultures have used whole grains and legumes in their foodstuffs for thousands of years such as oats, barley, bulgar and of course brown rice. The question really is, if you take out these grains and remove lentils and beans (legumes), could you still get enough soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet? Possibly (with great difficulty), but think of all the other nutrients you won’t get. Legumes are full of amino acids (protein) and healthy oils.

Ideally, you want as many different fiber types you can get from your food sources. So, consider soluble fiber from oats, vegetables and legumes, insoluble fiber from other grains and resistance fiber from legumes, whole grains and potatoes. Add this to your paleo diet and you should be in good shape.

Research Demonstrates we Need Fiber Sources

Research has demonstrated that foods rich in certain grains that provide resistance starch promote good bacterial growth in the gut. Resistance starch is starch (complex carbohydrate) that is not broken down in the small intestine. These bacteria in turn produce the molecule butyrate which has been demonstrated to protect large intestine cells from being damaged and in particular protects these cells from DNA damage. Human studies indicate that people who have diets high in these starches have a much lower rate of colon cancer. Other studies point out that diets high in fiber but low in resistance starch produce a higher rate of colon cancer. Again, the paleo diet is not well supported when grains are not included.

Perhaps you have noticed that a paleo diet excludes grains simply because they are seen to cause a number of diseases in the Western world. Research indicates that diets high in natural grains with high fiber content (not genetically modified or processed) lowers heart disease, atherosclerosis and stroke not to mention type 2 diabetes and obesity. One such food source would be Avena sativa or oatmeal. Grains are okay if they are not processed.

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