Integrative Nutrition Blog

Would You Do a Five-Week Paleo Challenge?

September 28, 2015

Image via Shutterstock

“Food is medicine… or it’s the slowest form of poison. And everyone has the choice.” 

Most people can probably agree with these sage words from IIN visiting teacher (and graduate!) Pete Evans. This Australian chef, author, and television personality is a champion for the transformative power of whole foods. 

Yet his more specific dietary views are far more controversial. Evans is a passionate advocate for the paleo diet, which he defines as primarily eliminating foods that can cause inflammation and celebrating the ones that don’t. 

That means eating small amounts of high-quality, well-sourced meat that has been fed a natural diet; lots of vegetables; and some healthy fats in the form of avocados, nuts, and seeds. 

The foods to eliminate? Grains, legumes, sugar, and dairy. 

Many people are skeptical of the virtues of the paleo diet, including Australian reporter Mike Willesee. In a recent interview, Willesee sat down with Evans to quiz him on the purported benefits of paleo and express his disbelief. 

Yet Willesee was curious, too. As someone who drank two cans of Coca-Cola a day, ate very few vegetables, and struggled with his weight, Willesee knew he needed a change. 

A visit to the doctor spurred him to into action – he was overweight and had elevated levels of cholesterol, inflammation, and homocysteine, putting him at high risk for stroke and heart attack. 

With the guidance of Evans, Willesee decided to become a “probationary member of the paleo tribe” for a 10 week-challenge. 

In the interview that documents his journey, Willesee experienced a powerful health transformation in just five weeks. His homocysteine levels went from extremely high to normal, he was able to buckle his belt two notches smaller, and his back pain had eased. 

Had Willesee jumped on the paleo bandwagon? Not so fast. He still expressed reluctance at giving up the foods he had loved his whole life (ice cream!) and was hesitant to make recommendations for viewers. As he phrased it, this was his experiment and he was the lab rat – viewers could take from it what they chose. 

We could not agree more with Willesee’s conclusion. As IIN founder Joshua Rosenthal says, “You have free, 24-hour access to the world’s most sophisticated laboratory for testing how food affects your body and your health. You’re living in it.” 

That means the best way to see if a diet is “good” or “bad” is to simply try it for yourself and see what it does for you. There is no one-size-fits-all diet, and while the paleo diet very well might produce dramatic transformations in some people, others thrive eating grains, dairy, and legumes. It’s up to you to find what works for you! That’s the essence of what we call bio-individuality. 

What do you think – would you ever try a paleo challenge? What do you think of the paleo diet? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below! 

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