Is the Paleo diet healthy?

Health Editor Dr Andrew Rochford

THE HEALTHY TRUTH: With so many new 'healthy' eating fads, how are you meant to know the best option for you? In my first of a series of special reports, I look at the Paleo Diet.

We cannot underestimate the importance of food to our overall health. The way we eat can make us sick and it can make us well.

Also called the Caveman Diet, the Paleo Diet the most searched diet on the planet online and its popularity continues to grow at a staggering pace.


So does the theory of eating like our prehistoric ancestors truly stack up against modern science, or does it belong in a museum?

The main principle of Paleo is only eating foods the cavemen would have eaten, and avoiding anything they wouldn't have recognised.

On the menu:


  • Red meat, game, poultry and lots of fish.

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Plenty of fresh, seasonal vegetables

Off the menu:


  • Sugar

  • Potatoes

  • Grains and legumes

  • Dairy

"[We are] always concerned when whole food groups are eliminated from people's eating and what they choose to eat on a daily basis,” Milena Katz from the Dieticians Association said.

The Paleo diet is based on the concept of only eating foods cavemen would have eaten, and avoiding anything they wouldn't have recognised. Photo: 7News
The Paleo diet is based on the concept of only eating foods cavemen would have eaten, and avoiding anything they wouldn't have recognised. Photo: 7News

Celebrity chef Pete Evans is devoted to what he calls the ‘Paleo Way'.

“I am betting my life on [the Paleo Way] and I'm betting the life of my children on it. That's how convinced I am,” he said.


Evans is so convinced, some of his views are not exactly conventional.

“We have no requirement for carbohydrates in the history of scientific medical research,” he said.

“I won't say that we don't need agriculture, but has it given us greater health?”

The Paleo diet is definitely not the worst diet on the planet.

Dr Andrew Rochford asked Paleo advocate and celebrity chef Pete Evans about why he converted to the 'Paleo Way'. Photo: 7News
Dr Andrew Rochford asked Paleo advocate and celebrity chef Pete Evans about why he converted to the 'Paleo Way'. Photo: 7News

There are key elements of the diet that both modern nutritional science and myself agree we should all be encouraged to adopt:

- Eating less processed food
- Eating less sugar
- Eat more fresh, whole foods that we cook ourselves

However, I disagree with cutting out whole food groups without a medical reason as the evidence to support that is currently weak.

My verdict? Do not take the full prehistoric approach. Instead, a modified, balanced version of the Paleo Diet is better, that is more realistic long term in modern life.

TUESDAY AT 6PM: Is sugar the next big killer?