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3Referred to as the ‘caveman diet’, the Paleo Diet was the most Googled diet of 2013, and recent research has revealed that it can be very beneficial.

The diet allows the consumption of lean meat, fruit, vegetables, fish oils, roots and eggs; whole grain and dairy based products, processed oil and refined sugars are avoided. This makes the diet beneficial for weight-watchers as well as those with cardiac problems.

The Paleo Diet offers the following health benefits:

Improves gut health. The absence of processed sugars and fats prevents inflammation of the intestinal tract that causes the ‘leaky gut syndrome’. As the diet endorses only ‘raw’ ingredients, it eliminates preservatives, additives and artificial colouring. This results in improved digestion and absorption by increasing the number of gut flora, preventing acidity and heartburn.      

Decreases allergies. Lactose and gluten-intolerance have become common problems that are exacerbated with the consumption of whole grain products. As grains are excluded in this diet, people with these allergies and those suffering from celiac disease find the diet to be extremely effective in preventing allergic reactions.

Develops a healthy brain. Proponents of the diet encourage the regular intake of fish oils, especially from salmon, as it is packed with omega 3 fatty acids that are a vital constituent of the brain, and are important for cognitive functioning. Low levels of these fatty acids are linked with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Promotes weight-loss. Being a high-protein diet, the foods consumed are used to build muscle mass instead of being stored as fat.

Improves heart health. Low in sodium and high in potassium, the diet reduces LDL (bad cholesterol) and blood pressure, while maintaining arterial health through constant cell regeneration. Since the energy produced from burning fats and proteins is released at a slower rate than that from carbohydrates, blood sugar levels stay stable during the day, reducing risks of diabetes and obesity that are precursors to cardiovascular disease.      

– Dr Beenish Israr
The writer is lecturer of Food and Nutrition at University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.

First Published in the Health Advertiser section of the Dawn National Weekend Advertiser on March 9, 2014.