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Is the paleo diet really all that healthy?

photo courtesy of Nick Morrison, Imperium CrossFit

If you attended Annual Session just weeks ago, you have been somewhat introduced to my love for CrossFit. Though I was compared to Hercules, my diet would say otherwise. As a Crossfitter, I spend a lot of time surrounded by the Paleo diet. My box hosts a “Paleo Challenge” a few times a year to encourage clean eating. I’m sure some of you have the determination to stay away from mashed potatoes and tortilla chips, but I live in Texas. I am not a paleo girl, but I can definitely respect the lifestyle.

The basis behind Paleo is to eat like the “cavemen”. This means eating fresh, non-processed foods and sticking to things found naturally like lean meats, nuts, fruits, vegetables and seafood. Paleo is popular in the CrossFit realm since it produces results for many athletes. The theory is that muscle growth is stimulated by branch chain amino acids. Lean proteins are a great source of these whereas most grains are obviously not.

There have been claims that the Paleo diet is good for your oral health and helps prevent tooth decay due to the lack of sugar present in the diet. Recently, paleontologists discovered that there are many forms of the paleo diet. They also discovered that majority of cavemen studied have extensive tooth decay. The obvious lack of modern-day toothbrush and toothpaste can contribute to this, but a diet revolving around meats and very few carbs is supposed be good for your teeth. These primitive individuals, however, ate tons of acorns. Acorns are high in carbohydrates thus contribute to tooth decay. Paleo-anthropologist Louise Humphrey states these massive numbers of recognized dental decay contradicts the idea that agriculture brought forth dental disease. Humphrey says the paleo diet for cavemen was essentially an opportunistic diet. There are many types of paleo as our ancestors merely ate what was available in their region of the world.

So is the paleo diet that is followed by CrossFitters world-wide really all that healthy? Is this a counter argument to yet another fad diet?

It’s important to remember to educate patients on proper oral hygiene in addition to the diet of their choosing. There isn’t one diet that will truly prevent tooth decay.

I know that I will continue to practice the notion of “CrossFitting because I love food too much”…and of course brushing my teeth.

~Katie Sowa, 2013-2014 Editor-in-chief, Houston ’15

Katie Sowa

Katie Sowa is a 4th year student at the University of Texas School of Dentistry. She was the 2013-2014 Editor-in-chief and led the 6-member editorial board in planning content for ASDA News, Mouth, and Mouthing Off. She was ASDA's first electronic editor from 2012-2013. Katie currently serves as Immediate Past President of her ASDA Chapter and the JADA Editorial Board Student Liaison. When she's not at school, you can find Katie working on her Power Cleans at a CrossFit box at 5:00am, no matter what city she's in.

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  1. Interesting article and very informative regarding the Paleo diet. I have heard that it was good for your oral health and helps prevent tooth decay. I believe that we just need to educate our patients regarding what they put in their bodies to avoid tooth decay.

  2. I believe as long as you eat healthy you should be able to stay healthy. I know the effort behind this diet is suppose to be how the caveman use to eat. If the caveman didn’t eat then you couldn’t eat either.

  3. Blaine Guenther says:

    I found a related article in Penn News. Have you read this article?

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