While there are many health benefits that have been demonstrated to be possible by adhering to the Paleo diet, there are also some risks that should be kept in mind when considering (or in the process of) adopting it. These risks can be avoided with careful planning, but it’s important to be aware of some of the potential problems that are associated with the Paleo diet.
Primarily, these have to do with steering clear of some staple foods that typically constitute much of our contemporary diets. Making up for some of the nutritional loss from these foods can be done, but it’s better done before it becomes a problem.
Calcium and the Paleo Diet
One of the principal concerns that critics of the Paleo diet espouse is the potential lack of calcium intake due to avoiding dairy. Osteoporosis is the most common concern with calcium deficiencies. Most calcium is stored in your bones, after all, so depriving your body of it affects them the most.
The National Osteoporosis Association recommends 1000 mg of calcium per day in the average diet. Many greens can provide this much needed calcium, especially dark greens like collard greens, kale and bok choy. Of course, there are also calcium supplements, but nutrient absorption is typically the most efficient when it comes in food. Learn more about how to get enough calcium on the Paleo diet.
Vitamins From Grains
Cutting grains from your diet is another cornerstone of the Paleo diet. Unfortunately, most of us have come to rely extensively on this food group for a number of nutrients, such as B vitamins and fiber. This can make it difficult to effectively (and healthily) transition into a full-on Paleo diet. However, the benefits of doing so may outweigh the risks and living sustainably grain-free is definitely do-able–just ask anyone who deals with Celiac disease on a daily basis.
One of the most difficult issues with the Paleo diet for many people is its seeming lack of practicality. Without dairy, grains, processed foods and sweets, what are humans to eat? Getting enough energy without calorie-rich carbohydrates, for example, is not always an intuitive task. There are plenty of acceptable alternatives, but it does take more planning to feed yourself on the Paleo diet than on many conventional diets.
The limitations can be tough to negotiate at first, but after awhile become second nature. It’s simply a matter of overcoming the learning curve, finding the right Paleo meal plan for your palate and needs, and locating the needed items in your local super- or farmer’s market.
[Photocredit: VegetableMatter; UUtah]