September 9th, 2011
10:21 AM ET

Is the Paleo diet healthy?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Question asked by Courtney L. from Pittsburgh:

I am obese and have been working on losing weight for three years. I have been working with nutritionists and personal trainers instead of fad dieting. On the Web, I stumbled upon the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet. Is this lifestyle change beneficial despite the promotion of saturated fats and cholesterol?

Expert answer

Hi, Courtney. I applaud you for staying away from fad diets in an attempt to lose weight. Most fad diets are simply not sustainable long term, which leads to weight regain, and their impact on overall health has not been established.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Paleo diet falls into the fad diet category.

While there are many different versions of the diet with slightly different rules, the general principle of the diet involves eating foods that can be hunted and fished (meat, seafood - grass-fed, wild and organic are encouraged) or gathered (eggs, fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and herbs).

Dairy, legumes, salt, grains, refined sugar, processed oils, potatoes (including sweet potatoes) and alcohol are excluded from the diet.

Basically, this is a high-protein, relatively low-carb diet. The positive aspects of this diet are that it eliminates processed foods, a major source of added sugar, salt and fat in the American diet.

The diet also eliminates sugar and refined grains, both of which contribute to obesity and diabetes and can lead to increases in dangerous belly fat, which has been linked to heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

In addition, the diet encourages a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts (except peanuts, which are legumes) and seeds, all of which are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The cons are:

1. The diet eliminates dairy, an affordable and widely available source of bone-building calcium (and vitamin D when dairy foods are fortified) and protein (yes, calcium can be obtained from greens and other foods, but it is more challenging to consume adequate amounts.)

2. The diet eliminates all grains, including whole grains, which are a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and heart healthy fiber, and foods such as beans, peanuts and sweet potatoes, all of which have numerous health-promoting qualities.

3. The diet is high in animal protein, which could lead to an excess intake of saturated fat, resulting in elevated cholesterol levels, an increased risk of heart disease and increased risk of certain types of cancer.

4. Finally, the diet can be expensive (grass-fed, organic meats and eggs are more expensive) and inconvenient due to the limitation of food choices, both of which make this diet less practical for the average person long term.

Overall, I would steer clear of the Paleo diet, but we can take away something from our ancestors by eating foods closer to their natural state (less processed), which are more nutrient-dense and digested more slowly by the body. In most cases, they lead to better hunger control, more stable blood sugar levels and weight loss if calories are reduced and exercise is increased (as it sounds like they are in your case).

Got a question for our experts? Submit it here and make sure to follow Dr. Melina Jampolis on Twitter.

soundoff (305 Responses)
  1. Karen

    To CNN: Continue to run articles about Paleo. The more experts you pull in, the more interesting this will be. I know they (experts)will not agree....but since the government diet recommendation keep changing, why would they? You want to practice balanced journalism I'm sure. I found Paleo information when I was researching osteoporosis. I only wanted to avoid getting sick like all the other women in my family. Grain and celiac go hand in hand. And all those women with osteoporosis seem to also have celiac. the science is still going on. There are bad studies and sloppy data but I want to know about the research that is current. Don't let this be the last article on Paleo.

    September 9, 2011 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Batman

    I have been doing a modified paleo for 3 years and have dropped over 50 lbs. Tomorrow I'm riding 100 miles on the bike.
    My mods, moderate dairy,moderate/occasinal wheat and moderate saturated fat. No fast food , sweets or sugar.
    My snacks are 2 drinks a day (no more) if I want them. Easy enough that a cave man can do it, don't sweat the details

    September 9, 2011 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Zorro

    Paleo is the diet my great-grandparents (who lived into their healthy 90's), grandparents and parents ate, and what I grew up eating: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, meat and poultry, nuts, eggs and a small amount of cheese. We ate very little sugar or grains and absolutely no processed foods of any sort (I didn't have soda, chips or pizza until college and I've never had a TV dinner. My mother baked at the holidays, but desserts were fresh fruit with the occasional home backed cookie.) This is a diet of whole foods, plenty of carbs (yes, fruits and vegetables ARE carbs), moderate fat and protein. It is in no way a fad diet. It is a very healthy diet to stabilize blood sugar and energy levels all day and prevent weight gain (or aid significantly in weight loss). I have cooked this way as I raised my very healthy family. Readers interested in this healthy diet should look into the websites of Mark Sissan, Dr. Loren Cordain, Denise Minger and others for accurate information.

    September 9, 2011 at 20:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. lisa

    1. modern dairy is not the miracle food it is touted to be, look up the weston a. price foundation
    2. Grains rob your body of vitamins and minerals, esp. whole grains
    3. Meat has every vitamin except C which is easy to get from other sources
    4. The heart runs on saturated fat! open up a basic chemistry book! saturated = stable bonding

    This doc still repeats the old, tired, untruths.

    September 9, 2011 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • julie h

      You might want to investigate Weston Price a bit further...

      September 10, 2011 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
  5. Robb Wolf

    Fad Diet since 3million BC. So we have another "medical expert" who does not believe evolution applies to humans?

    September 9, 2011 at 20:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom R.

      Glad to see a response from a true expert on the subject.

      September 10, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
    • TL

      I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease last year. The hepatologist recommended I "lose weight and exercise more". When I pressed him for details on what exactly to do (obviously whatever I was doing was not working), he couldn't give me a good answer. It wasn't until I read your section on fatty liver in your book, Robb, that I realized what exactly was going on in my body and what kind of damage was being done to my liver. It totally opened my eyes and I made the switch to a more Paleo-like diet. Thank you.

      September 11, 2011 at 12:00 | Report abuse |
    • De

      Is this THE Robb Wolf, author of "The Paleo Solution"? If so... OUTSTANDING book! I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the research that went into the book.

      September 12, 2011 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      Or is has not studied evolutionary biology in the context of nutrition...at all... It's a bit embarrassing for Dr. Jampolis (and especially CNN) that she can't even get the basic facts of paleo right.

      First, the majority of the supposedly "banned" foods are not actually no-no's, and some are even encouraged in most situations (I'm thinking particularly about sweet potatoes and salt, though "processed oils" and alcohol should not be on the list either). Sweet potatoes are the primary carb source for most paleo eaters.

      Second, the cons are almost laughable. Though I find certain manifestations of paleo (esp. see Robb Wolf and Mat Lalonde) to be the most coherent and consistent scientific nutrition theory available at this time, I have no particular commitment to it. It is obvious that either you spent very little time researching paleo for this post, or the project assistant who did the research did a very poor job.

      Con number 3 would be funny if it weren't so depressingly wrong, and by someone who has the responsibility that comes with being recognized as an "expert." This is just plain irresponsible. The statement is clearly based on epidemiological studies, which, as any decent scientist knows, are ONLY sufficient for positing hypotheses, which then need to be rigorously tested in a lab. If your recommendations are only based on hypotheses, not on results of rigorous studies, this needs to be very clear to the reader.

      The other cons clearly come from the same place (epidemiology) as there is no mention of biochemistry or endocrinology at all. This is a joke. No rigorous scientist would take this kind of advice seriously, and neither should readers.

      CNN should be embarrassed. This article (Q&A) is as careless as it is harmful.

      September 21, 2011 at 01:38 | Report abuse |
  6. Alix

    A diet composed of REAL food isn't sustainable? Wow. I'm shocked.

    Who's bankrolling your column? Monsanto?

    September 9, 2011 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. JC

    I agree with Lisa
    Who is this expert? Need to study a little more or come back with different answers!
    Expensive food is part of being healthy these days, unfortunately!
    By weak foods and you will feel weak! Top fuel equals top performance period!
    Dairy is joke to much protein blocks the absorption of calcium and in general Americans consume to much calcium. We need more magnesium!
    I don’t even know why I would expect the real truth about health on a commercial website like CNN or any of the so called news stations!
    Anyway EAT ORGANIC! whole foods and you cant go wrong!

    September 9, 2011 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Ken

    Readers should ignore this article, it is based on Melinas`s personal opinion and that opinion is coming from someone who profits from selling refined diet supplement products. Of course she is not going to support a natural whole food diet regime.

    1. This is not a high protein way of life. You simply eliminate food that our body cannot tolerate and digest and eat food that allowed us to thrive as a species for millenia. You end up eating more fat.
    2. Dietary intake of fat does NOT lead to increased levels of blood lipids and cholesterols. Please `Dr`, show me the study that proves that. Triglycerides and cholesterols (vLDL in particular) are formed through the intake of exessive carbohydrates and fructose specifically.
    3. Whole grains, gram for gram, CANNOT stand up to a 2 cups of sauteed collard greens, kale, chard or other green leafy vegetable for their nutrient content. The only thing grain products have more of, gram for gram, is SUGAR. All carbohydrate, whether it`s complex or simple, breaks down into glucose and initiates an insulin response that is far greater than any WHOLE food (with the likely exception of dried fruits)
    4. Expensive? How much is Lipitor, Beta Blockers and blood pressure medication? How much do your `protein` (no doubt containing over 25g of carbs for 9g of protein...) cost?
    5. Do you have a full understanding of the difference in Omega 3 vs. Omega 6 in the human body? Do you fully understand the effects of systemic inflammation and the ways in which we can easily reduce and eliminate it without resorting to drugs?

    FAD diet? NO. A way to take back your health and live the best life you can? YES. If anyone reading this has any further questions, please, do more research online. Visit Mark`s Daily Apple, read Gary Taubes, watch Food Inc and Fathead. Google the heck out of the subject, read the research and make an INFORMED decisions, rather than swallow another `pill`.

    I will NOT take 2 pills and call you in the morning doc, I will eat my grass fed T-Bone and plate of Kale and wake up happy, healthy, full of energy and avoid the pharmacy altogether.

    Is paleo a FAD diet? It`s Fad that has lasted hundreds of thousands of years, and will outlast me.


    September 9, 2011 at 22:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kelley

      Your comment is much more informative than this article. I've been doing my own Paleo diet w/o even knowing it. Lost 20 so far. At the same time, my best friend continues to eat "healthy" and is getting fatter and fatter. I will certainly look up the information you provided. IMO the "experts" have no clue what they are talking about.

      September 9, 2011 at 23:14 | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Great comment! Ken….
      Kelley, Please check out http://goo.gl/lsyc6 for great compendium on the Paleo Lifestyle so you can learn more all about it.

      September 10, 2011 at 00:44 | Report abuse |
    • Betsy

      Amen. I have a doctorate in Public Health and eat as close to Paleo as I can... the high-carb (even whole grain) myth is one of the worst lies ever perpetrated on the American people. Of course, there are some who do tolerate more carbs, but many of us can't. How the hell is eating meat, eggs, nuts, fruits, and veggies a bad diet? I eat cheese too, but a lot of people can't handle dairy. People, educate yourselves, because the government is too in the pocket of industry to tell you the truth.

      September 10, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      Ken, thank you for a very informative comment!
      Question: whenever I eliminated all grains, including the whole grains, I ended up really craving fiber after a while. Eating a lot of leafy greens like kale didn't take that craving away. I wanted something more solid, like a piece of whole grain bread of rolled oats... I went as long as 3 years with no sugar or grains, but then slipped back. How do I overcome this craving and sustain this way of eating in a long run??? Thank you in advance.

      September 11, 2011 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    My doctor was about to put me on blood pressure pills (my reading was 180/100.) I did some research, went on the Paleo diet, and within just 2 weeks (my next check up) my blood pressure had dropped 40 points. 3 weeks later, it was down another 15 points. My doctor was shocked...

    Anyhow – I personally believe there is something to be said about this diet. Studies show that many people have a hidden gluten sensitivity/allergy and do not even know it. Doctors need to do a lot more alternative research. I've read that sometimes the only sign a person may have is a low ferritin count (which I have).

    September 9, 2011 at 22:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. JS

    Dairy and peanuts – really?!
    You are a "physician nutrition specialist" one of only 200 in the US perhaps you should familiarize yourself with more
    of "evidence based" nutrition. Even a closer look at the China Study points to dairy and peanuts as being potentially some of the most offensive "foods". It is widely known that peanuts are an issue because of aflatoxin and mold – they also promote an insulin reaction in many people. They are not a nut – they are a legume. They promote acidity vs. alkalinity as seen with other RAW nuts. Peanuts should not be eaten raw as they actually pose a health concern.
    Speaking of raw, dairy – when RAW may provide some of the benefits touted by MDs as a good source of calcium and protein. However casein is not well absorbed by many and pasteurized, adulterated dairy leaves the proteins denatured and the calcium in a form / acidity that may actually leach calcium out of bones to compensate for the poor quality available in processed milk.
    It is an embarrassment that your level of "expertise" is believed to be at a standard above any others especially those who strive to provide accurate and physiologically correct information to our patients, but constantly have to battle this non-sense from "real doctors"

    September 9, 2011 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Cynexius

    Based on my personal and professional opinion, I would absolutely not recommend the Paleo (fad) diet to anyone.

    September 10, 2011 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • M

      So you wouldn't recommend meat for cats, grass for cows, or bugs for birds? Paleo is not a fad diet, it's the "human" diet.

      September 10, 2011 at 10:57 | Report abuse |
    • Jeb

      Yet you don't take the time to tell us WHY your personal and professional opinions should have any relevance or validity to this topic. Well you know what....

      In my personal and professional opionion, I highly recommend EVERYONE eat the Paleo diet. – Jen, lost 200 pounds eating this way, Trainer, diet coach. Yeah...not a lot of high level degrees...but you lose 200 pounds in a healthy, slow, regulated fashion eating whole, real foods and THEN I might give a bit of credence to what you're saying.

      September 10, 2011 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
  12. matthew

    paleo sounds a lot like atkins, with some differences. the major problem with both is the source of calories (protein), and to some extent fat. your calories should come from carbs not from the above mentioned. sugar is NOT your enemy like the 'nutrition' community would have you believe. sugar is in EVERYTHING. you can't avoid it, but you can avoid most fats. sugar does NOT lead to diabetes, the combination of fats with sugar lead to diabetes, and as stated, sugars cannot be avoided.

    September 10, 2011 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ed

      Matthew, you don't make sense!

      September 10, 2011 at 00:51 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Who are you being paid by? Carbs come from veggies that everyone needs. However when you are paid to say what the bad guys want you to say, I guess you gotta. 🙂

      September 10, 2011 at 09:58 | Report abuse |
    • primaltim

      and I suppose you can't get addicted on crack or heroin either right matthew? what you have to be an alcoholic too before you get addicted? You are absolutely ridiculous!!

      September 10, 2011 at 23:03 | Report abuse |
    • la

      WHAT!!!? This is THE DUMBEST comment I have EVER read!!!

      September 12, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • Aaron Salter

      Hey Matt, a simple equation for you. Let me know if you understand it.

      Eating Sugar= Gaining Fat
      Eating Fat does not equal getting fat

      Maybe a do a little bit of reading next time before commenting. I'd recommend Gary Taubes "Why we get fat."

      September 14, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse |
  13. Jane

    Typical doctor's response. A paleo diet is basically an attempt at encouraging people to eat what we evolved to eat, what we ate for millions of years. It's something which should go without saying.

    Medical science will catch up with history eventually.

    September 10, 2011 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Alix

    Really, this doctor is shady.

    She's closed off all comments on her Facebook page that don't ascribe to her position and she refuses to address scientific anomalies in her position. This, to me, is indicative that this woman is a terrible scientist and is more interested in "saving face" than actually dialoguing with people who disagree with her and who present her with comprehensive studies that refute her suppositions. To put her position succinctly: Don't confuse me with new facts and studies because I've already made up my mind.

    I also find it rather disingenuous (and told her as much prior to being deleted) that she does not like the "cost" of the Paleo diet, but somehow her own medical practice refuses to accept insurance and medicare. While I'm sure she does token philanthropy, it is clear from her website and her comments that she has her own, money making agenda in keeping people fat, unhealthy, and misinformed.

    I understand that CNN probably wants to hire on a "pretty face" to spout off about "medicine" and "nutrition," but did you really have to hire on someone who is clearly a poor scientist who can't even adhere to scientific inquiry?

    September 10, 2011 at 01:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • primaltim

      I know right Alex!! I posted this to her wall, and she replied to me which was cordial, and then she removed it anyway because she is afraid that what I said is TRUE!!!

      Dr. Melina, I'm very disappointed in that CNN interview. I seriously hope you do some more research into the Paleolithic way of eating and reconsider your view as it being something to Steer Clear of. This way of living saved my life. I have cured my T2 diabetes in less than 4 months, and lost 35 lbs in that same time frame. Can I ever go back to the Standard American Diet NO? Otherwise I'll be right back in that same boat! I'll eat this way for the rest of my life. Please message me if you wish to hear my story.

      September 10, 2011 at 23:05 | Report abuse |
  15. Sundara0000

    The modern dietary regimen known as the Paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman diet. Let me state first that I have not tried this diet and don't have first hand experience on it. What I do have is common sense though. The diet as stated above is commonly called the caveman diet. You do realize that they lived on a diet that allowed them to store up fat for use during lean times and for insulation for cold weather? I am not a doctor or a scientist but I do know that our bodies have evolved as time has went on. Yes you will lose weight restricting carbs, you should also not eat high amounts of animal fat. Have your meat and protien, just not the T Bones, Bacon ect. Choose lean healthy meats instead.

    September 10, 2011 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      I have to say that I am tired of everyone comparing the way the caveman has lived a shorter life, or stored up fat to make it through the winter etc. While that might be true , the basis of the diet now is that it is steering away from processed food, added processed sugar, and unhealthy fats. Read Rob Wolff's book The Paleo Solution. He goes into so much scientific detail about how grains break down to sugar and stored as fat. While eating the good grassfed meat and organic (non pesticided) veggies, your body starts to burn the fat you have stored. It does not store the fat from the meat it used it. Where as you eat a normal SAD (standard american diet) you store more and more fat from all those grains,sugars, and processed food that it has a surplus. Thus you dont' loose any weight. I have been trying to loose weight since January, I exercised and eat "healthy" but only could loose 5 lbs. I went Paleo and lost 10 within 2 weeks and my cravings for grains, sugars, etc are gone and I actually think of them but it turns my stomach. Many people are allergic to milk and grains and many don't know it – they just think a pill will cure whatever they have. Pills do nothing but reduce a symptom.

      September 10, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
    • Melanie

      Perhaps you should get educated about the diet before commenting on it. Fatty animal proteins such as bacon are not allowed (except as a cheat). The diet promotes lean animal protein, along with lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds.

      September 10, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
    • la

      Melanie – that is the nice difference between the Paleo Diet and the Primal Blueprint which I have been following. Paleo restricts fatty meat like bacon while the Primal diet encourages it. When killing and eating a carcass the fattiest parts of the animal were also consumed. Being able to indulge in the more fatty flavorful meats has kept me less likely to cheat – and I am still reaping the same benefits. Everyone should get educated. If a lifestyle change for good is what you want (and it should be) then a lot of research needs to be done amongst the different "Paleo/Primal" studies out there.

      September 12, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
  16. angel

    diet is a four letter word! there is no magic anything when comes to getting healthy. A healthy lifestyle is much more than a "diet" its exercising (number 1) not only for weight loss, muscle strenght/tone but health in general, especially as we get older. Exercise keeps alot of diseases at bay, including diabetes (exercise can actually almost reverse diabetese). bottom line: exercise, eat healthy foods (common sense keep away from the junk food as much as possible), portion control, EXERCISE!!!!! peeps, stop spending money on pills, powders, magic potions-read the fine print "results not typical". Not rocket science, just common sense!

    September 10, 2011 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeb

      While the intent behind you comment, Angel, seems well intentioned, you are off base. Exercise is not number one. Diet is it. I am a trainer. I make my money off of people exercising. And I will be the first to tell my clients that if they don't have their nutrition dialed in, they are going to have a hard time realizing their goals...be they asthetic or strength based. and when I say 'diet'...I'm not referring to a limited time restriction of calories in order to lose weight...I'm referring to the original meaning of the word: the food or drink that a person or animal usually consumes. A diet that fuels your body through the days activity, which hopefully DO include exercise.

      September 10, 2011 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • Melanie

      Paleo is NOT low carb. It includes tons of veggies and fruits. Of what do you think those are primarily composed? Protein?-no Fat?-no Carbs?- YES!!! 🙂

      September 10, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
    • Angel

      Just to clarify, this is a different "angel" than the one who posted on the Sanjay Gupta blog on plant based eating. I'm not sure who "angel" with a lower case is, but it's not me 🙂

      September 11, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
  17. angel

    P.S. any "diet" that eliminates healthy food groups is not a good one! A "balanced" healthy choice of foods is best. Our bodies need carbs for energy (the good ones) needs some fats (also the good ones-avocados, nuts, olive oil for example)

    September 10, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ray

      Calories = energy. If you are still convinced that carbs or GLUCOSE is the only way the brain can function please do the research on KETONES and maybe look into people such as Dr. Eades on the topic of gaining energy from a low-carb diet. Anyone who seriously still thinks that you need carbohydrates to have energy is misinformed and really uneducated on the topic.

      September 14, 2011 at 20:30 | Report abuse |
  18. sornord

    My doctor told me that the recommended grain-based diet of a few years ago, would "require an Olympic athlete in training to burn all that carb." Get the books on the subject by Gary Taubes. In Good Carbs Bad Carbs he goes into detail on how the current mainstream diet recommendations are NOT supported by the evidence, and WERE not supported by the evidence even thirty or forty years ago. It is a classic case where evidence was cherry-picked to support a foregone conclusion. The evidence that did NOT support that conclusion was ignored.

    September 10, 2011 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Patrick

    More expensive? Maybe, but I just went to the local farmers market to get my grass fed ground beef and then to the supermarket to buy the rest of my groceries. The price of the grass fed ground beef compared to ground round in the supermarket? 1 cent more per pound. Hardly something to break the bank.

    September 10, 2011 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Kevin

    This so called "expert" clearly has not researched this diet. The most ignorant statement she made was in regards to the cost, after being on this diet for awhile and weaning your body off sugar/carb fuel ,you will find you are less hungry and will require less food. In the long run individuals and families will save money eating this way. Get your facts straight Dr.

    September 10, 2011 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • primaltim

      And the amount of money you save not eating junk food, meals out all the time and as you said, requiring less food, is cheaper in the long run...not to mention the money you save not buying over the counter meds, doctor visits, and overall being healthier is totally worth the price of organic food!!

      I don't have to spend money on diabetic drugs, anymore!!!

      September 10, 2011 at 23:09 | Report abuse |
  21. Holly

    Awesome comment Ken. There is so much information out there by Wolff, Taubes and Sisson that one would be remiss not to read. People really need to educate themselves and try this lifestyle before they form an opinion. My mother-in-law was almost on cholesterol drugs and began to eat this way. Her doctor called her a couple of months later and said her levels are normal and to "keep doing whatever you are doing because it's working". People should compare their blood work and blood pressure before and after and then make a judgement.

    September 10, 2011 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Robert

    The paleo diet is the best one-size-fits-all diet. However, hidden food sensitivities and allergies develop from years of eating the standard american diet (SAD). I run blood tests from Alcat and Cyrex labs to identify these. What people don't seem to understand is this.... you eat your pain, you eat your sickness, you eat your disease.

    September 10, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Frank from NJ

    I'm glad to see so many responses refuting what this doctor says. How do people like her get published in the first place? Hopefully the readers' responses will keep her and these typical low octane articles off the web. They are nothing but empty information calories. To CNN- Dig DEEPER before you publish opinions from "experts".

    September 10, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. mimi

    My opinion and response to previous reviewers is that if you're going to be skeptical, be skeptical of everything – whether it's MDs, paleo supporters, vegan preachers, or dieticians. And stop the paranoia with people having bad intentions or hidden agendas. Most likely this columnist's training focused on the research supporting their opinion – remember with almost every nutrition issue there is usually lots of evidence in either direction, and unless you know exactly how a study was conducted in its finest detail and how the data was analyzed (and even if you do) it's hard to come to definite conclusions. In fact for paleo, like "blood type diet", there is rather a lack of evidence. Instead one relies on 'common sense of evolution'. But think about this: were you there back in the day? Do you know for sure that all the cavemen were perfect brad and angelinas with no health issues? They probably had a whole bunch of nasty diseases also. Just because it's ancient doesn't mean it's automatically good. I'd like to see paleo people consciously choose to do everything else "the way we evolved": stop showering, sleep on the floor, drink water from nasty ponds instead of the filter, cut AC and heat, and mostly kill and hunt their own food (I know some try which is cool!).
    I'm not preaching one or the other. I think the human body is highly adaptable and you could survive on eating garbage if you wanted to. As long as you move a lot, eat the right amount of calories, you'll be relatively ok (unfortunately that is typically where the magic comes from when someone tries ANY diet, but if they lose weight and feel better about themselves many jump to the conclusion that they have found the holy grail). More subtle changes in your appearance and well-being WILL depend on the micronutrients you ingest, but I think what you need also depends from your more immediate ancestry. It's good to know that some change in your genetic makeup can happen WITHIN YOUR LIFETIME, and these changes can already be passed on to your own children. So it would make sense that culture and geography would also impact what your body has an affinity to (example: the difference in many Asians' reaction to dairy vs those with a more European background).

    September 10, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Aceman

    I think most of the paleo recommendations allow sweet potatoes which are a great source of slow carbs and quality nutrients. Especially if someones goal is less than rapid weight loss then the yams, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables could be consumed as needed for muscle glycogen.

    September 10, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Robb Wolf

    As to the sustainability issue I'd direct people to Permaculture operations such as PolyFace farms

    The reality is a paleo/whole food diet would preclude Dr.Melina ethically supporting products such as her "nutrition" bars:

    Finally, on Dr. Melina's Fabebook page, she states she will not engage in scientific discussion of this topic. All of this material effectively become a public record, I wonder how we will look back on this article in a few years?

    September 10, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melanie

      I absolutely love that the #1 ingredient in the bars she sells is syrup blend (brown rice syrup, cane juice invert). And she lists one benefit of the bars as 'no high frustose corn syrup'. So syrup blend is more healthy??? Would your grandmother have had syrup blend in her pantry?

      September 10, 2011 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
    • primaltim

      Robb Wolf is the Paleo Master!! OH yea, he's a BIOCHEMIST too!! I know where I'll get my info from!!

      September 10, 2011 at 23:12 | Report abuse |
    • maryann

      but... what happens to all the thoughtful comments that have been deleted to avoid the necessity to defend the esteemed doctor's position.

      September 10, 2011 at 23:17 | Report abuse |
    • Nazim

      One of the main points is that our dmoern diet is drastically different than it used to be, and we are getting cancer, diabetes and heart disease at fairly young ages, when hunter-gatherers and wild animals do not get these diseases. The best theories explaining why seem to be the Paleo Diet theory (Eaton, Cordain, etc.), the (processed) carbs theory (Taubes, Atkins, etc.), and the Omega Diet theory (Simopoulos), and they all coincide quite nicely, incriminating our dmoern western diet. Hunter gatherers have been shown to live past 60 years of age when other environmental conditions haven’t killed them (malaria, etc.) We eat way fewer vegetables and fruits, meats now have much more fat, and livestock have a vastly different diet than wild animals (even much different than livestock about 100 yrs ago), hence the meat we eat has way more saturated fat and way more fat in general (hence the advice to eat lean meat). Processed carb consumption is causing a huge increase in diabetes, and plays a huge role in heart disease (read Taubes). I choose not to be a skeptic and take good ideas where I can get them, including this website. Thanks.

      March 4, 2012 at 07:22 | Report abuse |
  27. April

    I am VERY disappointed at seeing this article published by CNN. Unfortunately many people will read this article and be fed a mass of incorrect information about the Paleo lifestyle. I can only hope that they continue to read down into the comments. Glad to see so many people commenting on how WRONG this "expert" is! Also... loved seeing Robb Wolf drop in to comment 🙂

    September 10, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. ddbigshoots

    Follow the money... What commercials are running on CNN.

    She is bought and paid for – CNN is no more a news agency, then Baskin Robbins is a health food store

    September 10, 2011 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. NavyGirl

    I understand that the Paleo diet may not be absolutely perfect. The books written detailing the diet discuss all of the arguments in the article, and offer sample diet/meal plans for people with different needs or goals. You can follow the diet for the most part, still have your "cheat meals" (this was where I had maybe some oatmeal or a bit of dairy), and you will still find a lot of benefits from the change. Did my grocery bill go up? yes it did, but mostly because where I currently live doesn't really support more organic/ local food sources. Did I miss my grains and salt and dairy? At first i did, but after a couple of weeks I felt sick if I had a processed or high-sugar food. Is this diet for everyone, probably not. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, I don't think you would be able to meet your nutritional needs on this diet. Is this diet perfect for me? YES. I am very sensitive to lactose and to gluten, so this diet would almost seem to be tailored-made for me. I eat lean meats (no bacon or fatty cuts of meat) of standard portion sizes and plenty of produce and nuts and find that I do not feel any lack of any nutrition. I had a full panel done about 30-45 days after starting the paleo diet and had no gaps in any of my nutrtional needs and my cholesterol levels had decreased along with my weight. When I started the diet, I was injured and unable to exercise at all for several months, this diet made the difference. My recomendation, do your research. Don't accept information from only one or two sources as absolute truth. Find a diet (as in normal, long-term daily eating habits) that fits your needs. Paleo was the best lifestyle option for me, and I am much happier and healthier for it.

    September 10, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Marcheline

    I encourage everyone who reads this article to do their own research on the Paleo diet, because the author of this pathetic article obviously did not.

    1. Sweet potatoes are NOT banned in the Paleo diet, they are encouraged actually – as an occasional treat!

    2. Shopping for food is NOT more expensive... because you're saving all that money you used to throw away on soda, cookies, chips, cakes, pasta, and an endless list of other crap that you no longer need to buy. If you are going to say that you spend more on MEAT than you used to, well – yes. But taking into account ALL the groceries you buy, eating paleo is MUCH CHEAPER. How do I know? I've been eating paleo for 5 months now, and I handle the bank account. CHEAPER. End of story.

    3. Anyone that can call a way of eating that's been around since caveman days a "fad" is not the person you want to be putting your trust in – can I get a BOOYAH?

    4. My husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He started eating paleo. Lost 57 pounds. Is now off medication. All his levels are stupendously improved (cholesterol included).

    5. I have lost 30 pounds, my acid reflux has completely disappeared, and I don't really need to post any more reasons why the person who wrote that article is full of crap, now, do I?

    September 10, 2011 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • reallynow

      Totally agree. What most people fail to realize is that chronic illness, cancer, etc are more expensive in the long run. Buying and consuming healthy foods that are "more expensive" now, will prevent shortened lifespan and unhealthy, diet related diseases.

      September 11, 2011 at 09:49 | Report abuse |
  31. Scott

    For those interested in the scientific basis of "paleo"-like diets, I highly recommend Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories." It is a dense read, but very thoroughly researched and objectively written. I am a Physicist, with high regard for the scientific method, and one thing Gary Taubes also describes at length in his book is the very poor quality of science associated with diet and human health.
    The bottom line, based on the evidence he presents, is that our nationally recommended (carbohydrate based) diet is extremely unhealthy, and is likely the primary cause of our ever-growing national obesity epidemic (no pun intended....).
    I have personal, anecdotal evidence that he me absolutely convinced to avoid refined carbohydrates at all costs, and to consider even whole grain breads, etc, as a treat or exception. The one carb that I just don't want to kick is oatmeal, however!
    Read the book – it is very illuminating. And NO, I have no personal interest in seeing Gary Taubes' book sales increase.

    September 10, 2011 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Montana

    The reasons given by the doctor to avoid the Paleo diet are nonsense. I have Type 2 diabetes. After recommendations by my doctor to nutritionists who put me on diets that raised my blood sugar, cholestoral and weight. I did my own research, read and tried recommendations by Dr. Mercola and arrived at liestyle that eliminated all processed foods, milk products, peanuts and sugars. Lean meats, veggies and some fruits and nuts did the trick. Then I heard about the Paleo diet and discovered it was what i was already doing. It does not cost more to buy and eat organic foods. It is cheaper because you eat less and are never hungry. My blood sugars are normal . Exercise does help jump start the metabolism. Why the doctor who wrote the CNN article thinks this is a fad diet is because there are books about it which to some doctors means a money scam. In reality, anyone interested in nutrition who ha done research can find information on the internet that supports this healthy way of eating. Dr. Cousens, who claims to reverse Type 2 diabetes in three weeks, has a similar eating plan.

    September 10, 2011 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Laura

    Why have nearly 100 replies been deleted? I've read every one of them and they were well thought out and polite. Does the truth hurt too much?

    September 10, 2011 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • primaltim

      Yes it does Laura!! No one profits from the TRUTH!!!

      I posted this to her wall, and it got removed? I guess the word CURED scared her!!

      Dr. Melina, I'm very disappointed in that CNN interview. I seriously hope you do some more research into the Paleolithic way of eating and reconsider your view as it being something to Steer Clear of. This way of living saved my life. I have cured my T2 diabetes in less than 4 months, and lost 35 lbs in that same time frame. Can I ever go back to the Standard American Diet NO? Otherwise I'll be right back in that same boat! I'll eat this way for the rest of my life. Please message me if you wish to hear my story.

      September 10, 2011 at 23:14 | Report abuse |
  34. Alix

    This woman is all about censorship. The hallmark of a poor scientist.

    September 10, 2011 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Take it from me

    And in addition to lovely healthy grass-fed meat marbled with delicious saturated fat, it is especially healthy to eat organ meats including liver, kidney, heart, thymus gland, and tongue.

    September 11, 2011 at 00:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Eric

    The problem with the establishment is that to get the 'approval and accreditation' required to appear credible, you have to accept some pretty strange ideas - at least publicly.

    Dr. Jampoli is inteligent and well informed - but misguided. Her contribution to the dairy myth can not be a simple misunderstanding - to be a scientist today is to accept, at a minimum, that bovine mammary secretions have no place in human consumption and, further, that consuming them is one of the most dangerous habits of the western diet. But, for her to come out and say stuff like that is, well, a direct route to being disavowed by the 'establishment' and, probably, her spot on CNN.

    The Paleo Diet, The Human Diet and other diets that steer people toward a diet that we have evolved to live with is one of the most common sense things in the world. But not so profitable a concept for the dairy and drug companies.

    The Dairy Management Company (lobbyist) spends over $100,000,000 per year to influence an increase in the consumption of dairy products.

    September 11, 2011 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eric

      Diet, by the way, originally meant 'way of life' - not temporary alteration to your eating habits to a achieve a short-term weight-loss goal. Every living thing on earth has a diet... including people.


      September 12, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
    • Abigail

      Very good blog! Do you have any recommendations for ainrispg writers? I'm hoping to start my own website soon but I'm a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I'm completely overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Kudos! Also I want to ask you something else. I ve heard that the 17Day Diet is a very good way to help stave off cancer. is that true? And one more thing, have you heard about the telic 22 diet ? (google it to learn about it) Ive heard some interesting things about it and my coworker lost a lot of weight with this diet.

      March 4, 2012 at 09:52 | Report abuse |
  37. Suzanne

    Thanks eveybody!!! You've restored my faith! I've been Paleo for about 9 years will never go back! I live in Germany, the land of bread and potatoes and people here think I'm crazy. I thought I was all alone. But after reading everyone's enthusiastic, well informed, and critical responses, my decision to stay paleo is reaffirmed!

    September 11, 2011 at 03:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Ron

    Correct me if I am wrong but cavemen did not live very long...average 18 Years old. However that was not due to poor diet, cancer, diabetes, nor heart problems. I beleive in a balance between nature and man science. What's wrong with a few sweet potatoes, whole grains and if you can tolerate it dairy foods especially when you need calcium the most. A modern version of the Paleo diet. Use your modern God given brains and stop thinking like a caveman or cavewomen. And yes it is ok to take an asprin or use soap and still live to be 100+

    September 11, 2011 at 08:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Larry

      Ron you are wrong. Those averages are based off of a lifestyle in which you could get killed young from animals or falls or any number of mishaps. The average looks much better if you discount those that died a young and violent death. Nothing to do with nutrition. Actually, the advent of agriculture saw the average high go from 68 inches for a hunter gatherer to 66 inches for the agriculturalist. Do some research and read the other side of the story before you draw conclusions.

      September 11, 2011 at 09:22 | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Yes Ron, you are wrong. If you remove infant mortality numbers, early man lived much longer than 18, but that's not the core point of your post, is it. You imply, that along with the diet, adherents should follow a caveman's life as well. That's simply asinine. I follow the diet, I'm typing on a computer, and they're not incongruous. This isn't historical reenactment, this is about finding modern foods that cause allergies and other problems in this otherwise modern life.

      September 11, 2011 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
  39. reallynow

    I am on the Primal Blueprint plan. It is similar to Paleo, but it includes dairy. This is the easiest, tastiest lifestyle plan on the planet. It isn't a diet, but a way of living. It is easy to follow since I have celiac anyway. Everything I eat now is healthy, unprocessed and organic (I did organic, grass-fed meats, etc before I even went to Primal Blueprint). Mostly, I eat veggies and fruits. I do juicing and intermittent fasting regularly. I have lost zero pounds, but I feel much better overall. I sleep better. I have a lot less migraines. I am healthier than I have ever been.

    The diet is not high in animal protein. At least 3/4 of your plate is filled with veggies. I eat cheese and greek yogurt as often as I want. Exercise is part of the Primal Blueprint. The best part of this lifestyle is the 80% rule. A person always strives to follow the Primal Blueprint 100% of the time, but if a person can follow it 80% of the time, that is okay. It is expected that you might eat bread, pasta or something not on the plan. It is actually a lifestyle that works if you give it a try. I do not feel deprived in the least, and my labs came back showing I am getting the proper nutrients.

    Why not do some more research before nixing a healthy lifestyle plan?

    September 11, 2011 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Doug

    Quite a contradiction in her list of cons. Con #1 says it is bad to eliminate dairy due to it being a calcium source. Note that dairy contains high amounts of animal protein. Then in con #3 she explains how animal protien is bad for you due to high saturated fat and colesteral causing heart disease and cancer. Which is it?

    September 11, 2011 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Zev

      Posted on Having just spent a year taking care of my sllowy dying father, seeing Hereafter really affected me, because it deals with the connection of the dead and dying to the living. Like the french journalist in the film, I discovered that no one wants to acknowledge the altered state in which you find yourself after you have been intimate with dying (not quite the same as being intimate with death). Remember in one of the Harry Potter books that the children always arrive at Hogwarts pulled by horseless carriagesor so Harry thinks? After he experiences first hand the death of a friend, he can see that the carriages are in fact pulled by beautiful black horses, and realizes that only people that have seen death first hand can see the horses. (I think its black horsesit might be black dragons). Anyway, the point is that I felt very grateful to Clint for addressing this hugely significant aspect of livingknowing dyingAND addressing the fact that our culture wants to keep the experience as sterile as possible. Made me go on a mini Clint Eastwood jag, re-watching Gran Torrino and everything except the Dirty Harrys (yuck).

      March 5, 2012 at 22:43 | Report abuse |
  41. cons.

    Looking at the cons.

    1. The diet eliminates dairy, taking away calcium and protein. Not only can you get as much calcium as you need from vegetables (although it is "difficult" with the diets of the modern age- remember this is a lifestyle change), but vegetable sources of calcium are less acidic then dairy products, leading to less excretion of calcium and more absorption.

    2. The diet eliminates all grains, including whole grains, which are a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and heart healthy fiber. The vegetables provide you with all of any vitamins or minerals you'd miss from grains, and the vegetables don't have the anti-nutrients preventing the vitamin absorption.

    3. The diet is high in animal protein, which could lead to an excess intake of saturated fat. I'm guessing "could lead" means if you follow the diet incorrectly? The paleo diet does not promote eating processed meat or high fat meat. Our ancestors chased down and ate lean animals, not fat, grain-fed animals that sit on a crowded farm 24/7.

    4. Finally, the diet can be expensive. This is true. This is because healthy meats which are grass-fed is a niche. Giving these farmers our business will insure their growth.

    September 11, 2011 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Jason

    I used to be a follower (in my diet as well as on Facebook) of Dr. Melina, but after seeing that she sells her own brand of highly-processed "food" bars with a sugar product as the first two ingredients, I'm off her bandwagaon. It is unethical to give people advice to avoid sugar-laden processed foods with the left hand while selling them to others with the right hand. Shame on you! After this, I think I'll read up on Paleo.

    September 11, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Eric

    I eat anything I want and maintain visible abs year round. You mad? Calorie in=calories out. The human body "sees" nutrients, not foods, thus it is logical to approach nutrition as a simple numbers game rather than fixating on this meaningless concept of "food quality"

    September 11, 2011 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      Are you serious? So, you're saying that what a person eats makes no difference whatsoever? That's too daft for words, if in fact that's what you're saying.

      September 11, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  44. Xtremum

    I think the doctor is misunderstanding a few things about the paleo diet. First and foremost it questions the current paradigm regarding fat and cholesterol. There are lot of very smart people dissecting studies and questioning the current state of affairs regarding accepted recommendations for eating healthy food and avoidance of things like fat and animal products. I would suggest anyone interested Google around and read some information about paleo from both proponents and critics and make up your mind from there. If nothing else, the paleo lifestyle is about not just accepting the word of authorities, but thinking for oneself. The most frequent piece of advice from paleo folks to those interested is: try it, see how it works and go from there. That is definitely something you don't hear from mainstream nutrition authorities.

    September 11, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. marissa

    Would love it if you got an expert who really understood the science behind the Paleo diet to answer this question. This expert does not.

    September 11, 2011 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. functionalawesomeness

    One of your cons of the paleo diet was
    Finally, the diet can be expensive (grass-fed, organic meats and eggs are more expensive) and inconvenient due to the limitation of food choices, both of which make this diet less practical for the average person long term.

    So health care when you develop diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or a number of modern day diseases from eating an industrialized diet can be expensive. Being limited by your disease or death at an early age, is very inconvenient.

    September 11, 2011 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. James

    Really... Asking "Dr" Melanie if the Paleo diet is healthy is like asking Jack Kavorkian if he's pro-life! It's called a Conflict-of-Interest folks – she's paid to promote a processed, high-sugar, high-carb product and regurgitate the same old SAD diet we've been following (and dying from) for the past 50 years. I've been Paleo for 11 months now and have lost 80 lbs, gone from a BMI of 34.2 to 23.8 and brought my C-Reactive protein and fasting blood glucose down to great levels. Do yourself a favor and give it a shot, it'll change your life (not you Melanie, keep eatin your syrup bars!) 😉

    September 11, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Martin

    I'll bet most of the folks going on this diet are older than the vast majority of folks back in the stone age lived to be. Think about it!!!

    September 11, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David Rourke

      So what? Infant mortality and lack of emergency medicine kept average lifespans low both before and after humans adopted agriculture. Hunter gatherer populations that adopt a Western industrial diet invariably become far less healthy as a result.

      Modern humans can get the best of both worlds by taking advantage of the best that medicine has to offer and eating in a manner that optimizes gene expression. I'm 48, and eating this way has been great for my health.

      September 11, 2011 at 19:45 | Report abuse |
  49. Fat Then Fit Now

    How wrong could one expert me. CNN if you would like a genuine expert who has actually dropped a bunch of weight; give me a call, I’m available… Joe Leonardi, D.C.


    September 11, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. David Rourke

    I've been following this way of eating for about 2 years. I lost 35 lbs. (now at normal BMI) quickly and have easily kept it off. I've experienced numerous improvements in health. Contrary to this article, my LDL (bad) cholesterol dropped 60 points into the normal range as HDL went up and triglycerides went down. I sleep better, have more energy, just about never get sick, and no longer have gum disease. The benefits have been simply amazing–I recommend it to everyone.

    September 11, 2011 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.