The Paleo Diet’s Impact On The Gut

The Paleo Diet is notorious for being “good for the gut” because it naturally removes many trigger foods such as dairy and gluten and focuses on eating whole, unprocessed foods. Since the diet is high in fiber, many people report having a positive experience with Paleo, but recent studies show that it may harm the gut in the long term.

What is the Paleo diet?

The concept of the Paleolithic diet started in the 1970s as a reaction to the rise of ultra-processed, low-cost, readily available foods. Anthropologists have found that the diet most likely consisted of four main food groups: plants, animals, seafood, and insects. The western adaptation of the diet includes:

  • Lean meats 
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Fresh foods
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Plant-based oils

The diet has been shown to aid in weight loss, support heart health and help control blood sugar. 

Effects Of Paleo and The Gut

Due to the increased interest in the Paleo diet, researchers have begun to study its long-term effects. An Australian study found that doing the Paleo diet for one year damages the gut microbiome. The study points to removing entire food groups as the reason for the imbalances found in the gut. This impacts your gut’s ability to function and can harm your overall health. The study specifically points to finding increased levels of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), an organic compound involved in the development of cardiovascular disease.

Another study found that those who follow a Paleo diet long-term have a lower intake of resistant starch, which is important for feeding the good bacteria in the gut. Removing specifically whole wheat, grains, and legumes can be attributed to this imbalance.

Many who have been on the Paleo diet for a short period have experience richness within the gut microbiome, studies show the long-term effects have adverse effects. In the long-term, researchers have found the composition of the gut has changed unfavorably when on the Paleo diet. These changes can create an unhealthy digestive system which can negatively affect your mind and body.

Should you try the Paleo diet?

Most studies have reported that the long-term effects of the Paleo diet can cause real damage to the gut. However, if you are interested in trying the diet for under one year, it likely won’t have negative health implications or create major issues within your digestive system. 

It’s a good reminder not to jump on diet trends just because they tout great results. Dietitians have found that a fully rounded diet consisting of whole foods is the best for those who suffer from digestive issues. As always, consult your doctor before committing to a new diet to ensure it’s safe for you!

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