If you are thinking about how to combat a heart disease, going for the caveman diet is not going to do the trick for you. Given the fact that heart diseases are the biggest reason for fatalities in the United States and that almost 610,000 people die from it per year, it is important to search for solutions to a healthy heart.
Over the last few decades, researchers have tried to explore whether paleo diet, a restrictive diet based on the eating habits of our ancestors and favored by almost 1 percent of the Americans, can actually improve the health of your heart.
So far, the results are inconclusive. Some findings encourage the use of this diet while others are still skeptical about its role in benefitting the heart patients.
Is the Paleo Diet Good for your Heart?
According to the researcher, the effect of the paleo diet on your heart basically depends on how you choose to follow this routine. Unlike other diet plans, the paleo diet does not recommend following exercises or portion sizes on the basis of food group.
However, the diet does focus on using certain food items and eliminating the others. For example, if you are following a paleo diet, you are expected to eat a lot of fats, veggies, fruits, and proteins. At the same time, processed foods such as cookies, chips, candies, and even legume and most of the dairy items are not included.
The paleo diet approach comes with its pros and cons. One of the major concerns associated with disease by most of the nutritionists is the fact that it does not include whole grains, dairy, and soy which are the main sources of minerals and vitamins.
However, if a person compensates for it by using a lot of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein from sources like fish and poultry, the mineral deficiency can be masked.
A disconnect has also been observed between the paleo enthusiasts and the general medical community. For example, paleo diet requires you to eliminate whole grains. On the other hand, the American Heart Association recommends using whole grains as they lower the cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, and stroke.
That being said, there are also some encouraging points regarding the paleo diet. Some people may try this diet to lose weight but studies have suggested that correctly following paleo diet can be a benefit for your ticker.
For example, a small study involving eight participants concluded that those who went for paleo diet for almost eight weeks observed a 35 percent increase in their interleukin-10, a molecule produced by immune cells.
This finding is particularly important because a decrease in IL-10 number may indicate an increased risk of heart attack in people with high inflammation levels. Hence, an upticking in IL-10 may indicate a decrease in risk for heart disease.
An additional benefit of paleo diet observed in this study was the weight loss observed by the patients who consumed 22 percent lesser calories.
Paleo Diet and Diabetes: How may it Help People Control Blood Sugar?
Diabetes type 2 is considered as a major risk factor for heart disease. People who suffer from this type of diabetes often develop hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and obesity- all major contributors to various heart diseases.
Some research studies have pointed to the ability of paleo diet in helping the patients of diabetes type 2. For instance, a small study involving 13 subjects observed people for 2 months as they followed either a diabetes diet followed by a paleo diet or a paleo diet followed by a diabetes diet.
You may inquire about the difference between diabetes diet and paleo diet. Well, the diabetes diet used in the study mainly focused on carbohydrates for energy extraction. People following this diet kept their salt intake less than 6 grams on a daily basis.
The paleo diet, on the other hand, completely shut off dairy products, beans, cereal grains, sugar, refined fats, soft drinks, candy, and added salt.
People following a paleo diet were observed to have a lower value of hemoglobin A1C, diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides, weight, waist size, and the body mass index. At the same time, a rise was noticed in the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
The study also observed that the sugar levels of the participants, as well as their systolic blood pressures, were significantly reduced. In short, paleo diet was found to improve the symptoms of the diabetic patients and improved their heart health.
Things to Keep in Mind While Following Paleo Diet
Most of the nutritionists urge people who are considering to go for paleo diet to realize that this diet plan permits a lot of foods which are not heart healthy. Some examples of such foods include coconut oil, ghee, butter, and red meat. Consuming these foods on a daily basis may worsen the health of your heart.
The inclusion of red meat in paleo diet is a solid reason why most of the experts are questioning about its benefits for heart patients. A growing body of literature has indicated the hazards of eating too much red meat.
However, this does not mean that you cannot eat red meat. You can enjoy it as long as you consume it in moderation. The American Heart Association has recommended choosing lean cuts and skinless poultry and fish wherever possible to protect the heart.
If you have to lower down the cholesterol levels, target your saturated fat intake and lower it down to 6 percent of the total calorie intake. If you consume 2000 calories on a daily basis, these fats must form 13 grams of your dietary intake.
It is also important to keep in mind that a diet that is healthy for your heart has a low amount of sodium. While paleo diet might be naturally low in sodium as it eliminates the use of processed foods, there are no proper rules to restrict sodium in this plan.
Additionally, when you are cutting out foods like whole grains and legumes, the basic sources of fiber with cholesterol-lowering effects, this may not be a good thing for your heart.
Elimination of these two food categories can essentially lead to nutrient deficiencies. In people with diabetes type 2, fiber is necessary as it controls the diabetic symptoms. In such people, paleo diet may have more harms than benefits.
Talk to a doctor if you are considering to try paleo diet. This must be kept in mind especially if you already have an underlying disease.
The paleo diet comes with its own pros and cons, as far as the heart health is concerned. It is not failproof nor is a scientifically-vetted diet to cure heart problems, but has some potential to yield heart-healthy effects.
Removal of processed and packaged foods, added sugar, refined grains, and artificial sweeteners are the major positives of the paleo diet. Some other benefits are a limitation of alcohol and inclusion of vegetables and fruits in daily diet.
On the negative side, elimination of dairy, grains, and legumes, and permitting the consumption of red meat, ghee, butter, and coconut oil may not be good for your heart health.
If you are considering to try the paleo diet in order to improve your heart health, seek the advice of a doctor and find out what will work best for you.