By Chef K.T. Murphy
The Paleo Diet has helped a lot of people lose weight, and as far as popular diets go, it’s definitely not the worst one out there. If you follow the Paleo diet correctly, you should be fine, but there are a couple of ways that following it could make you sick if you are new to it or you aren’t careful.
Most of us get most of our fiber from grains, which are categorically excluded from the Paleo Diet. Not getting enough fiber can lead to constipation, but because grains are a slow-burn source of energy not eating them can also mean problems with balancing out your energy consumption. The big signs for these are having trouble going to the bathroom and feeling tired or irritable between meals.
That doesn’t mean that the Paleo Diet is a one-way trip to gastro-intestinal distress, however. The Paleo diet encourages the eating of fruits and vegetables, and both of these can be great sources of fiber, especially root vegetables and fibrous fruits like apples.
As for the energy thing, we brought it up because we were talking about grains, but protein is another slow-burn source of energy and it’s a staple in the Paleo Diet so start with eggs and fruit in the morning to get your energy fix started off right and you should be fine.
Another potential digestive issue with the Paleo Diet is the lack of probiotics and probiotics. The walls of your stomach do a lot of mechanical digestion, and of course there’s stomach acid to break down your food as well, but much of the work of digestion is actually done by friendly bacteria that live in your stomach and intestines. These healthy bacteria, called probiotics, come from dairy products, especially those that have been cultured and aged, like yogurt and cheese. These are all categorically denied by the Paleo Diet.
The first signs that you don’t have enough probiotics are problems going to the bathroom, or general feelings of uneasiness in the stomach. Even if you do manage to find probiotics elsewhere, they need to have their environment prepared for them by enterprising forerunners called “probiotics” which largely come from fermented foods like alcoholic beverages or pickled vegetables – all of which are also not allowed on the Paleo Diet.
Most of what probiotics do is digest things like fiber and grain which, as discussed above, are also not part of the Paleo Diet, so you may not have problems with this while you’re on it. If you ever decide to come off of the Paleo Diet, however, a lack of a healthy gut flora – the combination of prebiotics and probiotics working together to keep you regular – can be a real shock to the system and it can take a long time for you to repair.
Caffeine And Alcohol
They still merit some discussion in this article, however, as many of us have come to rely on them and both of them are denied by the Paleo Diet. The signs that you are going through alcohol withdrawal are irritability and shakiness, while the signs that you are going through caffeine withdrawal are usually limited to headaches, though they can be severe. If you need alcohol to function, you should probably consider stopping drinking anyway. Consider talking to your doctor about resources to help you to cut back.
As for caffeine, it is possible to quit “cold turkey” but it can lead to severe headaches and irritability. Consider gradually reducing your caffeine consumption by drinking one less cup of coffee per day each week. Switching from coffee to tea can also help because tea has caffeine, but not as much.
There are other nutrients that may be harder to find on the Paleo Diet, but you can get most of them by being sure that you eat a wide variety of the allowed foods. The Paleo Diet also allows a certain number of non-diet items per week, and it might be worth your time to use these to fill up on the healthy foods that you can’t get while you’re going by the book.
Finishing the Paleo Booklet will publish it when I get home from the hospital.
All The best