Diets go in and out of style about as fast as cheetah print goes in and out of style. Right now, the Paleo diet has taken the Instagram and health blog world by storm. While it sounds all good and dandy going back to a simpler time in our human history, is that what you really want? Pre-agricultural times, before the Neolithic revolution, forever changed our lives and diets. So let's be loud and clear, the paleo diet isn't so good for you.

Even more importantly, no diets are good for you. (Unless a health professional has suggested a specific dietary regiment for health reasons.) Cutting out certain foods groups can do a lot of damage to your health. Food groups were made for a reason because they provide a certain type of vital nutrients. Besides the obvious, dieting is restrictive which often leads to eating more of what you weren't supposed to. Diets create a negative relationship with food, and that is definitely not what you want. You are here to love your food. So, learn how to create a positive relationship with your food, your fuel for life. 

According to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and, the paleo diet can have a negative impact on your nutrition. In their joint article, "Severely Restricted Diets in the Absence of Medical Necessity: The Unintended Consequences," the harmful impact of cutting out certain foods is explained in detail.

But first things first, let's explain the paleo diet according to, the work of Dr. Loren Cordain, a prominent expert in the field of Stone Age diets. The paleo diet uses the premise that you shouldn't consume anything your ancestors from the Stone Age wouldn't eat, meaning your pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors. Dr. Cordain has several principles that outline the paleo diet. But with the help of some smart, well-educated folks who know proper nutrition, the truth will be revealed and you'll want to eat that dairy again.

The Paleo Diet Premise

Higher protein intake

meat, pork, ham, bacon
Jocelyn Hsu

Ex. meat, eggs, seafood, and other animal products. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had higher protein intake levels due to their high-protein diet, which is much different than our current American diets.

However, there is little evidence that a higher protein intake will increase health benefits. Higher protein intake is linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease and kidney stones. Extra protein makes the metabolic process more strenuous on the kidney and liver while increasing saturated fat and cholesterol.

Lower carbohydrates intake and lower glycemic index

Fruit, red berry, red fruit, sweet, berry, strawberry
Amelia Hitchens

Ex. Non-starchy fresh fruits and vegetables. Dr. Cordain explains non-starchy carbs should take up 35%-40% of your daily calorie intake since those types of food won't spike blood sugar levels due to their lower glycemic index.

But, this notion becomes a problem for the American public. Consumers have not been educated properly on carbohydrates. Cutting out carbohydrates-- AKA WHOLE GRAIN PRODUCTS, such as oatmeal, bread, pasta, rice, etc.-- can create nutrient deficiencies in vitamin B, potassium, and calcium which sometimes are irreversible. Nutritionists agree that refined, highly-processed carbohydrates are poor for your health. It is even suggested that types of processed carb play an even larger role than saturated fats in relation to heart disease. But, un-processed carbohydrates are good for you!

Higher Fiber Intake

pepper, carrot, tomato, vegetable
Christin Urso

Ex. non-starchy vegetables. Dr. Cordain suggests that whole grains are less fibrous than vegetables and fruit, so they are not necessary to our diets. Pre-agriculture, our ancestors did not consume such grains.

Not so fast. Grains such as barley, one of the most fibrous grains, has 7.8 grams of fiber.  According to the USDA, a serving of vegetables only has 4 grams of fiber. Glucose comes from whole grain products. Think back to your biology classes and recall that glucose is the main fuel source the brain can use. Glucose is a sugar, which is found in everything (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products) but protein. The ingestion of wheat-derived products has been suggested to improve the immune system, metabolism, and absorption of vitamins and minerals. 

Moderate to High Fat Intake 

guacamole, avocado
Paula Cappellin

Fat is defined as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated balanced with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats. This means cutting out trans fat.

Obviously, cutting out trans fat is recommended for every diet because it's not good for you! But, it is not to be confused with saturated fats, which are NOT the enemy. When intake of saturated fatty acids is lowered, usually another macronutrient is used to compensate, making a diet unbalanced. 

No Dairy

milk, tea, water
Alex Frank

Dr. Cordain proposes since dairy was not in a Stone Age person's diet (pre-agriculture), dairy should be excluded from the paleo diet.

Wrong. Eliminating a major source of nutrients (magnesium, protein, calcium, vitamins D and B-12, and potassium) can be very detrimental to one's health, especially to bones. Your mom wasn't lying when she said that milk will make your bones grow strong.

milk, dairy product, dairy, cheese, butter
Caroline Ingalls

The paleo diet does have some aspects to it that are useful guidelines, not rules. Dr. Cordain suggests a lower sodium intake, which often comes from highly processed food. He emphasizes the importance of a balance of dietary acid to keep organs functioning correctly. The paleo diet promotes a higher intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well.

Eating fresh, unprocessed and unrefined foods is extremely beneficial to your health. That should be the take away from the paleo diet. To eat fresh foods and meats. But, it is very important that you do not cut out a major food group, like dairy. It is a major food group for a reason. For example, calcium found in dairy supports bone growth and preservation, muscle contractions, nerve function and blood clotting. When a major food group is cut out, your body will become deficient, causing serious damage to the cells that can sometimes be irreversible.

Following the science-based dietary guidelines by the USDA and MyPlate, formally known as the Food Guide Pyramid, you can find the recommended amount of nutrients of all food groups that the body needs in order to function in this era, not the era of the Stone Age.

This article was reviewed for factual content by Maria Wolfel, a Nutrition and Dietetics graduate student who is completing her dietetic internship at Marywood University to become a Registered Dietitian.