Cavemen: Did they have it right when it comes to eating?
The Paleo diet has been of interest to my athletes lately. The general idea of the Paleo diet is eating what the first humans ate: Wild plants and animals. The Paleo diet is like stepping back in time before processed foods and the cultivation of vegetables high in starch. The diet consists of fish, meat, eggs, nuts, fruit and vegetables and eliminates dairy, grains, legumes, vegetable oils and excess sugar.
Paleo supporters claim that it can help decrease cardiovascular disease, help reverse Type 2 diabetes and decrease autoimmunity. It can also help decrease body fat, which may aid athletes in their sport. This diet also helps regulate the body’s insulin response to carbohydrates alleviating the body from having "sugar crashes."
As a dietitian, I like the idea of lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and eliminating processed foods. I am a bit skeptical on the elimination of complex carbohydrates such as beans, barley and oats. I think these foods have a place in a healthy diet. I also think dairy has a place in a healthy diet. I especially think these foods have a place in the athlete's diet.
Any diet, in my opinion, that is too restrictive may cause physical or psychological issues. Also, what works for one person may not be right the next person. Nutrition is personal, based on health, activities, goals and other factors. The best diet is one that is recommended especially for you by a nutrition professional.