The friendly microbes in your digestive tract love fiber. They gobble it up so they can multiply, which means more good bacteria to support digestive and immune health. But what happens when you eliminate a significant source of fiber from the diet? According to a new study, the answer may be an unhappy gut.
Researchers in Australia conducted a study in which they compared the paleo diet to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating—in many ways similar to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. What’d they find? Paleo, which advocates eating plenty of meat, eggs, nuts, fruit and vegetables but excludes grain and legumes (along with dairy) was linked to a handful of health issues from digestive distress to trouble sleeping.
Out of more than three dozen female study participants, ranging in age from 34 to 60, about 60 percent were paleo eaters while the others followed AGHE guidelines. Compared to the non-paleo eaters, the majority of women in the paleo group reported diarrhea. They were also more likely to suffer headaches, increased fatigue and sleep problems.
Why the side effects? Study author Amanda Devine believes it has to do with how the paleo way of eating affects our gut bacteria. “We know that whole grains are a great source of dietary fiber, and a lack of fiber can impact the microbes in your gut, which could in turn cause problems like diarrhea,” she said in a recent news release. Additional research is planned to examine the long-term gut health implications of the paleo diet.