It’s endorsed by a myriad of celebrities including Jessica Biel, Megan Fox and Miley Cyrus, but it turns out the Paleo diet may be putting your health at risk.
According to a new study, the way of eating – which involves foods that could be obtained by hunting and gathering in the caveman days – increases the chance of a person developing iodine deficiency.
For the experiment, researchers from Kungalv’s Hospital in Sweden enlisted 70 postmenopausal, overweight or obese women who initially recorded the same levels of iodine.
Half of them were assigned to eat a Paleo diet that saw 30 percent of their calories coming from protein, 40 percent from fats and 30 percent from carbohydrates. The other half were instructed to follow a diet based on Nordic recommendations, with 15 percent of calories from protein, 25 to 30 percent from fats and 55 to 60 percent from carbohydrates.
While the women in the Paleo group lost more weight after two years, they were also more likely to be deficient in the micronutrient – which is an essential component of the thyroid hormones that regulate the metabolic activities of most of the body’s cells. A lack of iodine in the diet has also been proven to affect muscle, heart, liver, kidney and brain development.
“The Paleo diet eliminates the major sources of dietary iodine in the typical diet today (i.e. iodized salt),” Dr Margo Denke, former professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School told Reuters.
“Our diet today contains many ‘extras’ that don’t provide for our daily needs (excess sugars, excess calories), and it is this excess that has driven some of the attractiveness of the Paleo diet – let’s get rid of all of the stuff and go back to our roots.”
“However attractive this type of thinking is, one must also acknowledge there are aspects of our diet today that are improvements on ‘the diet from mother nature,” Denke explained.
“Our diet today includes fortified foods that reduce the chances of a micronutrient deficiency.”
Along with table salt, great sources of iodine include dairy products and grains, all of which are restricted on the Paleo diet.
The study was originally published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.