Caveman Diet May Increase Heart Disease Risk

We are all searching for better health. Lifestyle and exercise changes play a huge role in our wellbeing. Diet is also important. Some people swear by the paleo, or caveman, diet. The diet focuses on food that would have been eaten by hunter-gatherers — lean meat, fish, veggies, seeds and nuts. It removes foods made accessible by the advent of farming — legumes, grains and dairy. Additionally, people on the diet should limit fruit. People are supposed to remove processed oils, refined sugar and salt. The theory of the diet is that, by getting away from processed and cultivated foods, a person can become healthier living like our ancient ancestors. The diet’s ethos contends that modern cuisine has outpaced evolution and that many health problems are caused by our current eating habits.   

People on the diet swear it offers better gut health. But, the adherents have twice the level of blood biomarkers strongly connected to heart disease. Researchers in Australia compared 44 people on the paleo diet to 47 people eating a regular diet and looked at their blood levels of trimethylamine-n-oxide (TMAO).

The research, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, was performed at Edith Cowan Univ. in Australia. In a statement, lead researcher Dr. Angela Genoni said, “We also found that populations of beneficial bacterial species were lower in the Paleolithic groups, associated with the reduced carbohydrate intake, which may have consequences for other chronic diseases over the long term.”

Because TMAO is produced in the gut, a lack of whole grains might change the populations of bacteria enough to enable higher production of this compound,” according to Genoni.

Genoni also said that the research, “may provide a link between reduced risks of cardiovascular disease we see in populations with high intakes of whole grains.”

As with many popular diets, the paleo diet is relatively new and unresearched. Most nutritionists suggest either a varied and balanced diet or a plan specifically tailored to someone’s medical needs. Highly restrictive diets may cut out things your body needs for health. Speak to your health care provider about what eating style is best for your needs.
July 29, 2019
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