Rethinking Paleo Diets – How popular diet disrupts your microbiome and your health
If your body was an Airbnb, you wouldn’t want to eat a paleo diet. Why? Because you’d be a terrible host for your guests, also known as your microbiota. New research published in The European Journal of Nutrition has revealed that paleo diets disrupt your microbiome. Long-term, eating a paleo diet could have a huge impact on your health.
Let’s strain the metaphor a little further. Switching your diet radically to a paleo pattern would be like kicking out all the clean and tidy guests who help make small repairs and keep the place in good working order. Instead, you’d be inviting in undesirable guests who party all night and trash the place.
Paleo diets have become popular in recent years. From weight loss to increased longevity, paleo proselytizers often make largely unproven claims about significant health benefits associated with eating a diet that excludes grains, legumes, and dairy.
While the diet is supposed to mimic what our ancestors would have eaten, the jury’s still out on that whole idea. And even if paleolithic humans did eat beef jerky and brains, such a diet would likely have been eaten out of necessity, not by choice or based on knowledge of good health. Remember, paleolithic humans didn’t live all that long or, arguably, enjoy many years of good health.
Sure, a small number of people may do well on a paleo diet, thanks to certain genetic variants, but most folks won’t, and now we have even greater insight as to why.
Paleo diets and poor health
This latest research, out of Australia, looked at the make-up of microbiota and associated metabolic effects in people following a paleo diet. Those eating this way for more than a year had unfavourable changes in the composition of gut microbiota and increased levels of the metabolite trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). This metabolite is linked to the development of cardiovascular disease.
In contrast, a Mediterranean style diet has long been linked with good health for a majority of people. This type of diet is packed full of healthy fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and unsaturated fats. The researchers compared the paleo dieters to those eating a balanced diet that included grains, legumes, and dairy, and found clear signs that the paleo diet had a negative impact on microbiota.
The paleo dieters were split into two groups: strict paleo and pseudo-paleo, depending on how closely they adhered to the no grain, legumes, or dairy ethos. After a year, both paleo groups, participants had:
- A greater number of gut microbes such as Hungatella, which produce more TMAO
- Reduced numbers of beneficial Bifidobacterium and Roseburia, which ferment dietary fibre to produce nutrients such as butyric acid and other short-chain fatty acids.
Those in the strict paleo group had higher levels of TMAO compared to the pseudo-paleo and control group eating a balanced diet. The lower the amount of grains a person ate, the higher the TMAO levels.
TMAO is a compound thought to be involved in narrowing or obstruction of the arteries, suggesting a fairly direct impact of a paleo diet on cardiovascular disease risk. Additionally, the paleo diet reduced the participants’ levels of bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids like butyric acid that support cardiovascular health.
Get your gut back on track
So, if you’re already eating paleo, or were considering it for 2020, it might be worth rethinking the paleo diet and instead focusing on a balanced and varied diet that includes grains, legumes, and other wholefoods. Such a diet is known to support a diverse microbiome and overall good health.
And, if your gut is already grumbling from a lack of grains, get yourself back on track with Natren’s Healthy Trinity. Natren probiotics are created using the unique proprietary Trenev Process ® which ensures survivability and stability of the live bacteria through an oil-matrix system that micro-enrobes each super strain to keep them separated, noncompetitive and virtually 100% protected from the stomach’s gastric juices.
The potency and number of colony forming units (CFUs) in all Natren probiotics is guaranteed through third party verification, so you know that what is on the label is what you’re getting.
Natren Healthy Trinity is a three-in-one probiotic supplement providing meaningful amounts of some of the most thoroughly researched probiotics around:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus, NAS super strain, 5 billion cfu
- Bifidobacterium bifidum, Malyoth super strain, 20 billion cfu
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus, LB-51 super strain, 5 billion cfu.
In other words, if you’re ready to deprogram from paleo and kick out those undesirable Hungatella, let Natren Healthy Trinity get your house in order.
Genoni A, Christophersen CT, Lo J, et al. Long-term Paleolithic diet is associated with lower resistant starch intake, different gut microbiota composition and increased serum TMAO concentrations. Eur J Nutr. 2019. doi: 10.1007/s00394-019-02036-y.