I’ve always thought that the Paleo diet was an interesting theory with some merit, but after reading into the actuals of the diet itself, I was put off by much of the regimen and advice. Here are the excellent points this article points out:
1. There is no singular pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer diet, as it varied wildly by geography.
2. The Paleo diet follows the naturalistic fallacy. That which is natural is not necessarily good. There are plenty of natural things that can kill us.
3. Our bodies are not identical to pre-agricultural humans, and our food species are not the same either. Our bodies and our food have both adapted to agricultural food availability.
4. Hunter-gatherers tended to have short lifespans. The biggest fallacy of the Paleo diet theory is that agriculture ruined our diet, when in fact, agriculture was an essential part of how civilizations began. When humans were still hunter-gatherers, we maybe lived to be 30 or 40, if we were lucky. Obesity and unhealthy eating choices don’t tend to kill humans until much later in life — e.g. the average heart attack happens around the age of 66-70. So studying whether or not our hunter-gatherer ancestors had the same food-based pathologies that modern humans do is difficult. One study mentioned in the article says that ~34% of the mummies over 30 from the hunter-gatherer period had atherosclerosis (clogged arteries). So it looks like their diets didn’t help them fare much better in this area, either!
In my opinion, the Paleo diet teaches some wonderful things, so if it works for you, go ahead and keep doing it. Personally I believe that everyone’s bodies are so vastly different that everyone needs to individually find a diet that works for them. Some of the basic parts of Paleo, like staying away from sugars and processed food, are universally good. However I think some of the other parts — eating as much meat and animal fat as you’d like, cutting out calcium-rich dairy, no legumes, etc. — are scientifically unfounded and could potentially have negative health consequences.