Paleo diet has received yet another censure from health authorities, as a new major study found a link between the famous diet and an increased risk of heart disease.
Paleo diet, often referred to as the “caveman diet”, is based on the belief that eating the way early humans do promotes optimal health. This includes a focus on meat, chicken, fish, fruits and vegetables, along with an avoidance of grains, dairy and processed foods.
However, a study from Edith Cowan University found that the paleo diet may reduce fibre intake and promote the growth of organic compounds in the gut that affect heart health negatively.
The research compared 44 people who ate based on Paleo principles with 47 people on a traditional Australian diet. The people following Paleo diets were found to have higher levels of trimethylamine-n-oxide (TMAO) in their blood, which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
“Those who promote the paleo diet often cite it as beneficial for your gut health, but this research suggests there were adverse differences in those who followed the dietary pattern,” said lead researcher Dr Angela Genoni.
According to Dr Genoni, grains are an excellent source of resistant starch and fermentable fibres that are vital to gut microbiome health.
“Because TMAO is produced in the gut, a lack of whole grains might change the populations of bacteria enough to enable higher production of this compound,” said Dr Genoni.
“Additionally, the paleo diet includes greater servings per day of red meat, which provides the precursor compounds to produce TMAO.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia, killing one person every 12 minutes.