The paleo diet is really a template for what eating should look like for a hypothetical human being. Paleo is about not putting things in your body that evolutionarily your body wouldn’t have anticipated. We evolved over a long period of time with the foods available to us in our environment. The more we change away from that the less our body is going to seamlessly tolerate those foods – leading to gut health issues that can contribute to other health conditions.
Despite this, paleo is not a one size fits all diet. There’s lots of variation within it because everyone is different and their bodies tolerate foods differently. Some people thrive on a plant-based diet, other people thrive on a carnivorous diet and most people are somewhere in between. One of the things you need to be mindful of when you’re instituting a diet like paleo is how it affects your body. It’s all very well and good to like the idea of it but you need to make sure it works for you. One way you can gauge this is by monitoring whether the diet ‘causes’ any digestive issues or whether it ‘solves’ any digestive issues.
Sometimes this can be a little hard to figure out, because sometimes it’s hard to be objective which is where functional medicine practitioners can help. This applies to any health issue, not just your gut! It’s always helpful to have someone who can be a little more objective than you are because subjectively you can get lost and you can get attached to the ethos of the diet rather than the outcome. So getting good help when you can is highly recommended.
With gut issues, specifically, it could be as simple as ‘you feel sluggish and paleo helps’ or ‘you are eating more meat now than you are used to and your body is feeling sluggish which could indicate your body is lacking in hydrochloric acid or just doesn’t particularly like eating a lot of meat’.
If you’re feeling wondering what approach is best for you, why not run a bunch of experiments. We should all be doing this across all aspects of our health anyway! For example; when I do this.. how do I feel?, when I eat this… how do I feel? when I eat that.. how do I feel? We all need to learn not what the right dietary template is for a hypothetical human being but what actually works for us. There are two ways to do that:
1) using objective data – that means getting some testing done. We recommend going to a functional medicine clinic like Melbourne Functional Medicine
2) running experiments – that means doing something and assigning meaning to something once you have observed patterns and again it can be useful to go through this with a practitioner (but you don’t necessarily need to)
So don’t be afraid to experiment and try something different dietarily, that’s how you learn! Mistakes, in a sense, are almost to be celebrated because learning about what doesn’t work helps you learn about what does work and helps you better understand your body. And if you need some extra support and guidance, we recommend seeking the support of a functional medicine practitioner.