One of the joys of writing for this website is the research. Most topics are fascinating and while much of what is written comes from the heart, it is equally as thrilling to learn new things.
A number of people have mentioned the Paleo Diet in relationship to IBS and so we felt it vital to include information about the Paleo Diet for you to make an informed decision.
Before proceeding we must make it clear that the diet is a general health diet, and not targeted at IBS in the same was that the Low FODMAP diet is. This must be born in mind, however its proponents feel that it is beneficial to all due to its natural content. We must also add that in all the time we have been researching we have found few more polarising topics.
Diets, like clothes, should be tailored to you.
The Paleo Diet - Our View
Having read many articles and seen the passionate for and against arguments we feel cautious in making any statement for fear of retribution from either lobby. We are not here to dissect this diet and we have absolutely no motivation to either dismiss or laud this diet. Our only concern is for our fellow IBS sufferers.
So from a common sense perspective we can see the lure of this diet. It is clear to see from our Western health issues that there is a problem, a very clear and large problem. The guiding principle of Paleo is hard to argue with, healthy natural food and exercise is ideal. We do strongly believe in keeping food as natural as possible, purely out of an old fashioned desire to know what on earth is in our food.
With that said there are a lot of foods which are classed as natural which can trigger IBS, so we would urge a great deal of caution if adopting this diet for you. Of all the diets we have encountered only the Low FODMAP diet truly tailors itself. There is no guarantee with the FODMAP diet though so if that fails for you you may wish to try the Paleo Diet.
There have been a number of scientific warnings against Paleo:
A 2011 ranking by U.S. News & World Report, involving a panel of 22 experts, ranked the Paleo diet lowest of the 20 diets evaluated based on factors including health, weight-loss and ease of following. These results were repeated in the 2012 survey, in which the diet tied with the Dukan diet for the lowest ranking out of 25 diets; U.S. News & World Report stated that their experts "took issue with the diet on every measure". However, one expert involved in the ranking stated that a "true Paleo diet might be a great option: very lean, pure meats, lots of wild plants. The modern approximations… are far from it." He added that "duplicating such a regimen in modern times would be difficult."
If you choose to follow this bear this in mind, also bear in mind that when returning to our common sense maxim, that the diet would be impossible to achieve exactly as the make up of the original Paleolithic diet would have varied based on location, for example some places had no vegetables or fauna such as the Unungans of Alaska. The diet would have also been seasonal and subject to periods of feast and famine. The final point would simply be related to the relative life expectancies of modern man versus Paleolithic man, there may be serious problems with our modern diet, however the bottom line is that we are living longer.
Despite of this evidence, many are evangelical about the Paleo diet, and we would not dismiss its validity without physically trying the diet, something we plan to do in the future. We still lean toward the FODMAP diet, and a good healthy lifestyle. Good low fat, low sugar food, lean healthy food and plenty of exercise will help most people with IBS, it is not information we all like to hear, but then as a race we are often uncomfortable with the truth.
Unearthing the Truth
Researching this topic is made even harder by the fact that everyone has an angle. Many are out there ‘selling’ this diet, with their websites and guides, while many others have vested interests in disproving the diet. For every claim there is a counter claim, so to write this article we have had to resort to common sense. We have put a link in for the Wikipedia article, as it is worth a read. It backs up our opening statement about the polarising nature of this diet, and ensured that we had to search far and wide and gather as much information as possible before attempting to write a fair reflection of the diet.
What is the Paleo Diet ?
To keep this as succinct as humanly possible, we would describe it as an attempt to recreate the diet that mankind should be digesting. The Paleo comes from Paleolithic and it is from our ancestors that we take this diet, it is high in what is often classed as hunter gatherer foods such as meat and the type of food which was once foraged. Therein lies its key appeal, this appears to makes sense, a healthy natural diet is very hard to argue against. In particular the diet focuses on the pre-agricultural period, a period where cereals and dairy became mainstays of our diet.
Without doubt there are many elements of the modern diet which are simply not right. So much excess, sugar so much excess fat, and we have such an abundance of food compared to the generation that the diet is based around. In fact there are very few commonalities between that version of mankind and today’s. We have included a chart in the slide show on the top right which gives a fair impression regarding the content of the Paleo Diet. There is much argument over the percentage of each, however proportional this diagram represents the diet.