Ok...before you flame me this isn't a question to slam Paleo. I think an important part of any "movement"(for lack of a better word) is to point out not only the positive but the negative. I notice there have been some minor health issues referenced on Paleo Hacks from from people switching to paleo like cortisol issues, digestive issues, weight gain, etc. However, I haven't seen anything that would be constituted as a serious health problem from switching to Paleo and maybe there isn't any, in which this would be a great question to delete. I guess I would define serious health issues as autoimmune disease, cardiac disease, stroke, etc. Now I know that it would be hard to point the finger at Paleo for these problems if they occurred after switching to Paleo, but I am curious none the less.
Has anyone experienced or have there been any documented instances of serious health problems that occurred after switching to the Paleo lifestyle?
Common issues I have heard of in 2 1/2 years participating in the online paleo community (but not experienced personally):
*Skyrocketing total cholesterol and LDL - jury is still out on long-term effects of super-high cholesterol from eating paleo and high in animal fats.
*Fat soluble vitamin poisoning (or just elevated blood levels of retinol, D) from high consumption through foods combined with supplementation.
*Worsened hypothyroid symptoms (likely from neglecting to find a reliable iodine source after no longer consuming processed foods with lots of iodized salt), or even development of hypothyroid after becoming paleo. Always seen with VLC/ZC (tons of meat)...
*Severe lack of appetite on a VLC diet higher in fat and protein, leading to chronic undereating and often to exhaustion, lack of endurance, and muscle loss.
*Serious exacerbation of OCD and eating disordered tendencies (usually pre-existing) leading to debilitating anxiety and guilt surrounding food, and/or to increasing amounts of self-deprivation (most commonly zero carb and/or 'fasting') which usually causes various serious health side effects (extreme weight loss to emaciation, depression/anxiety, and infertility/amenorrhea being the most common).
*Weight/fat gain due to believing the people who say calories don't matter and eating a high-cal, high-fat diet.
*Disturbed sleep/insomnia. Usually caused by ketosis.
*Constipation or diarrhea/extremely soft stool, or even both alternating. Caused by high protein/no starch.
For lean/thin individuals particularly, who eat low or zero carb though often higher in calories.:
*Muscle wasting, unintended weight loss to extreme/unhealthy levels
*Hormonal imbalances for both sexes, amenorrhea and infertility in women
*Exhaustion and lack of endurance, inability to recover from workouts
*Persistent hypoglycemic issues while in ketosis/eating low carb, no matter how long they try to tough out the 'low-carb flu'. Including low blood pressure/faintness, headaches/migraines, brain fog, slurred speech, irritability and anxiety, etc.
ETA: On a LC diet, thin people seem to experience one of either extreme of appetite: almost no hunger, or rather ravenous hunger which can't be satiated without starch. I've never been hungrier in my life than when I was VLC, but no matter how much I stuffed myself with fat/protein/veggies I never felt satisfied. Add a moderate amount of starch (say a minimum of 50g with my 2 or 3 daily meals) and I am totally satiated. It's literally the opposite effect that overfat people report on LC.
I have seen some real bad thyroid disease from a paleo diet high in iron from excessive muscle meats and the patient crashed on iodine, zn, and se. You got to be a total meat eater or you must supplement. There is no other option
If you consider that most of the dietary-related diseases paleo seems to address usually take decades to develop, most of us haven't been eating paleo long enough for any potential long-term negative effects to be evident.
Like a previous commenter, I'm also bordering on being too thin, but I couldn't say that's entirely blameable on paleo.
Im writing here mostly to confirm everything is better Paleo. As a person, I am not one to do any kind of diet! I had vowed to kill myself before ever following a diet! Here I am though and I can't really give it up because if I do, that means return of mental fogginess, skin problems, ADD, and less muscle tone. However, I write this everywhere, but I kept coffee as part of paleo for a long time and that was a big mistake. Going coffee free has been better than Paleo all together. So really, it's not Paleo that works/doesn't, it's knowing that food matters and your instinct is going to help you more than any doctor.
I have been more anxious and depressed lately. Mainly due to not cutting me enough slack. I have become too OCD about stuff. I guess i am prone to that. Its causing me to loose some (almost all of it) social life due to avoiding NADs. I will make cheats now but i will make them count), will make me feel better and less guilty. Take it easy :) Mental wellbeing is about the most important thing, if theres problems.
I've become way too obsessive about eating right, to the point where I lost a lot more weight than I needed to and have to gain some back or risk complications from being too thin. I don't think this necessarily stems from paleo, but it is a concern that people who are predisposed to becoming obsessive about food, or who have histories of eating disorders might have issues when switching to paleo since it restricts a lot of things. I got into trouble when I unnecessarily cut fruit and high-carb vegetables and started fasting daily. Now I am incorporating more fruits, tubers, and some white rice in an attempt to gain weight.
I was hospitalized because I fainted last year. Turned out it was very very low blood pressure which caused a syncope and severe cramping. It was a truly horrible experience because they didn't know what it was and I had to go through the gauntlet of tests to rule out things like epilepsy and brain tumors. Over a year later I have absolutely no more cramping, hypotension, or fainting issues. I upped the carb, calorie, and salt intake and watch mineral intake more carefully in general. I had been mostly paleo for about three years at that point.
I also had an issue with chronic stomach cramping and diarrhea while paleo and narrowed it down to brassica vegetables, which I don't eat anymore and it doesn't bother me at all.
Very good question, and I think that we need to be mindful of the data that are coming in on this. The full-scale and routine bashing, downvoting, etc. of others with different responses both on this site and others isn't conducive to good data collection. Personally, I haven't noticed that much of a change, but I wasn't eating SAD before. People I know who have abandoned paleo when it didn't work for weight loss or fit into their budget just added a few other foods, like some grains or peanut butter or non-grass-fed meat, but most of the people I know have seen other benefits that keep them on the diet.
The only issue I have encountered is trouble balancing electrolytes. I don't eat dairy for a lot of reasons and thus tried supplementing calcium since it's not in our drinking water as much as ancestrally, but I ran into cardiac arrhythmias, which I've had before off and on throughout my life, regardless of diet. When I remove calcium altogether and hope that there's enough in food I end up with muscle twitches. This is further complicated by the interplay between vitamin d, k2 and calcium. The way that sodium, chloride, magnesium and potassium play into this is difficult as well. Simply consuming the RDAs is too much, probably due to increased intestinal absorption from D3 and trying to get it from food is too little. I'm experimenting with dosages now but it's pretty annoying.
It's nowhere near as annoying as feeling sick all the time due to reactive hypoglycemia or actually being sick due to a compromised immune system that arose out of vitamin d and zinc deficiencies.
Making a fundamental dietary change perturbs the body-mind's prevailing norms; homeostasis. Sometimes an existing diet/exercise regime can effectively mask symptoms, sometimes over a long period of time. This can be the case regardless whether the existing approach is sound or not. Making a change of any sort (including toward Paleo) can activate the symptoms. Thus one might conclude, "Maybe the change to Paleo is the CAUSE of these new symptoms." Basic truth: correlation is different from causation. Event A precedes B, which does not per se make Event A the cause of Event B. There is no off-the-top way to know whether there are elements of the Paleolithic lifestyle that may properly be understood as "causing health problems."
One possibility to consider is that the shift to Paleo might precipitate a "healing crisis," in the same sense as walking through the doors of the Betty Ford Center can kick an addict's symptoms into full bloom. Healing crisis as essential for genuine recovery. However, I don't recommend that you assume this is true in any particular instance. You should pay attention to the symptoms, and consider consulting a physician who's in sync with diet/nutrition, exercise, full-person perspective. Hint: most MDs do not fit this description.