Paleo diet: why it can be useful for autoimmune conditions?

In recent years, the Paleo diet has gained significant attention as a nutritional approach that mimics the dietary habits of our ancestors from the Paleolithic era.


Beyond its reputation as a weight-loss regimen, the Paleo diet has garnered interest for its potential therapeutic benefits, particularly in managing autoimmune diseases and promoting gut health. In this article, we delve into the fundamentals of the Paleo diet, its relevance in autoimmune disease management, and its impact on gut health.

What is the Paleo diet? 

The Paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet or Stone Age diet, revolves around consuming foods that were available to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. This includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds while excluding processed foods, grains, dairy, and legumes.

The rationale behind the Paleo diet lies in the belief that our bodies are genetically adapted to thrive on the foods our ancestors consumed.

Autoimmune diseases and the Paleo diet

Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body. Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Crohn's disease are examples of autoimmune diseases that can cause chronic inflammation and discomfort.

The Paleo diet has been highlighted as a protocol to support health if suffering from those conditions; This is because of its emphasis on whole, nutrient-dense foods which can help manage autoimmune diseases for several reasons:

Anti-inflammatory properties

The Paleo diet encourages the consumption of foods rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and seeds. By reducing inflammation in the body, the Paleo diet may alleviate symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases.

Removal of potential triggers

Grains, dairy, and legumes, which are excluded from the Paleo diet, contain proteins and compounds that may trigger inflammation and exacerbate autoimmune symptoms in susceptible individuals. By eliminating these potential triggers, the Paleo diet helps to minimise immune system overactivity.

Gut microbiome balance

Emerging research suggests a link between gut health and autoimmune diseases. The Paleo diet, rich in fibre from fruits and vegetables, supports a diverse and thriving gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for regulating immune function and reducing the risk of autoimmune flare-ups.

Impact on gut health

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health, influencing digestion, immune function, and even mental well-being. The Paleo diet promotes gut health through several mechanisms:

Increased fibre intake

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are abundant sources of dietary fibre, which serves as fuel for beneficial gut bacteria. A fibre-rich diet helps to maintain bowel regularity and supports the growth of a diverse microbiome.

Reduced consumption of processed foods

Processed foods, common in Western diets, often contain additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners that can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria. By prioritising whole, unprocessed foods, the Paleo diet minimises exposure to potentially harmful substances.

Emphasis on fermented foods

Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha are staples of the Paleo diet. These foods contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria that support gut health by improving digestion and bolstering the immune system.

The Paleo diet offers a holistic approach to nutrition that it is believed aligns with our evolutionary heritage. Beyond its popularity as a weight-loss strategy, the Paleo diet shows promise in managing autoimmune diseases and promoting gut health.

By emphasising whole, nutrient-dense foods and eliminating potential inflammatory triggers, the Paleo diet empowers individuals to take control of their health and well-being. However, as with any dietary approach, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional or registered nutritionist before making significant changes to your diet, especially if you have a medical condition.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, W1S 1HP
Written by Lucia Stansbie, Registered Nutritional Therapist, Dip CNM, mBANT, mCNHC
London, W1S 1HP

Lucia Stansbie is the founder of Food Power Nutrition.
Lucia is a BANT and CNHC registered Nutritional Therapist and member of the Royal Society of Medicine.

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