The Paleo diet emphasizes consuming whole and natural foods and is based on the way ancient man is thought to have eaten. This means the diet focuses heavily on fresh produce, meat, fish and nuts. While this may seem like a healthy way to eat, it can still cause gastrointestinal stress and stomach pains, especially if it's not how you're used to eating.
A Fight With Fiber
You may find you get some bloating and pain on a Paleo plan, which calls for a high intake of fiber. Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and cutting out refined, low-fiber grains, especially if you increase this fiber intake too quickly, can lead to gas, bloating and discomfort. Increase your fiber intake gradually and drink plenty of water.
A Fat Chance
The Paleo diet isn't classed as a high-fat or a low-carb diet, but because it cuts out grains, beans and legumes and suggests eating more animal products, nuts and oils, it tends to be higher in fat and lower in carbs than you may be used to. Eating lots of high-fat foods can lead to indigestion. Go easy on your fat intake by sticking to small servings of nuts and oils.
Your stomach issues could just be temporary and caused by a sudden switch in dietary habits. Rather than switching straight from what may be a diet high in refined carbs and processed foods, aim to gradually transition to the Paleo diet. That could mean cutting out added sugars in week one, taking out dairy in week two, swapping grains for fruits and vegetables in week three, eating protein at every meal in week four and so on.
Find Out About FODMAPs
FODMAPs stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are types of carbohydrate that can be poorly absorbed, leading to stomach pain. Common sources of FODMAP foods include onions, garlic, apples, pears, mango, mushrooms and cauliflower. These are all Paleo-approved foods, but could still cause pain or symptoms similar to those of intestinal bowel syndrome. If you suspect this is your issue, talk with your doctor or a nutritionist regarding low-FODMAP diets, elimination diets and food intolerance testing.
- Go Ask Alice: Gas, Bloating, Fiber
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Indigestion
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help and Support Group: Foods Suitable on a Low-Fodmap Diet
- Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology: Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAPs) and Nonallergic Food Intolerance: FODMAPs or Food Chemicals?