A new Swedish study has found that older women who follow the “Paleo Diet” may be more prone to iodine deficiency than their non-Paleo counterparts.
The Paleo diet is one that gained particular popularity in recent years. It consists of foods that were available to humans during the Paleolithic era- congruent with the idea that modern food habits are unhealthy and unnatural.
It focuses on lean meats, veggies, seafood, fruits and nuts, and stays away from modern foods such as grains, dairy, salt and sugar.
This experiment analyzed around 70 obese or overweight older women. Half of them were assigned to the Paleo diet group- with 30% of calories from protein, 40% coming from fats, and 30% from carbs.
The other group was assigned to a Nordic diet- a variation of the Mediteranean diet- with 15% of calories coming from protein, 55-60% from carbs and 25-30% from fats. After analyzing the groups for two years, they found that the Paleo group had higher than average weight loss, but were also prone to iodine deficiency.
All women had similar levels of iodine at the beginning of the study. At around six months, iodine levels were the same in Nordic diet women, but dipped for the Paleo diet women. Iodine is among the most common nutrient disorders in the world, and poses a great risk of metabolic and thyroid problems.
The Diet & Iodine
Some nutrition experts had previously warned against the Paleo diet given that it eliminates an important food group: grains. Some have also criticized the idea that anything modern is necessarily bad, and that human biology has definitely evolved and adapted to more modern lifestyles since the Paleolithic era.
Dr Margo Denke, who was a medicine professor at University of Texas’ Medical School, said that the reason this happens is that the paleo diet eliminates some of the major sources of iodine in out diet today, such as iodized salt.
“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,” Denke said.
“However attractive this type of reduction thinking is, one must also acknowledge that there are aspects of our diet today that are improvements on 'the diet from mother nature',” he noted. “Our diet today includes fortified foods that reduce the chances of a micronutrient deficiency.