Alarmingly, they found significant amounts of trimethylamine-n-oxide or TMAO in the blood of participants who subscribed to the strict eating regime. This is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease – which kills one Aussie every 12 minutes.
For those not in the know, the paleo diet centres around the ‘caveman’ style of eating, i.e. increasing consumption of meat, chicken, fish, nuts and seeds while restricting grains, legumes, sugar and dairy. And according to lead researcher Dr Angela Genoni, it’s the high quantity of red meats and lack of whole grains that are the source of the problem.
“The paleo diet excludes all grains and we know that whole grains are a fantastic source of resistant starch and many other fermentable fibres which are vital to the health of your gut microbiome,” she said.
“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. Additionally, the paleo diet includes greater servings per day of red meat, which provides the precursor compounds to produce TMAO.”
This is yet another brutal blow for the popular diet which has attracted heavy criticism by experts in the past, including the Australian Medical Association. In 2015, an analysis of 35 different diets saw the paleo lifestyle come dead last when ranked on weight loss effectiveness and nutritional value.