Paleo and Depression– An Ancient Cure for a Modern Day Problem

The Sad Truth

Depression is a growing problem in the Western World. In fact, the incidence of depression has been increasing every year since the beginning of the 20th century. Now that over 100 million people worldwide have some kind of mental illness, sufferers and medical professionals alike are seeking new and better solutions to the problem of mental health.

Paleo Depression Girl Depressed

But what if in fact, rather than in modern solutions, the answer came from looking backwards instead?

This is exactly the idea that runs behind the Paleo Diet, which seeks to return people to optimum health, through eating a diet that is similar to that of our cave-man ancestors.

What is the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet consists of the foods that would have been available to humans in the Paleolithic era. This means eating any number of foods that can be found growing in nature, can be caught or picked including:

Fruit and vegetables

Grass-fed meats



Nuts and seeds

Oils (derived from olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado or coconut)

Paleo Diet Depression Range of Foods The Paleo diet then eliminates foods that were only introduced to the human diet with the development of agriculture, which began as the Paleolithic era ended 10,000 years ago. In evolutionary terms this is actually a relatively short stretch of time and as such experts believe the human body has not had time to sufficiently adapt to these ‘new’ foods. If I continue to say that the Paleolithic era itself stretched for a huge period of time – more than 2.5 million years, this fact will begin to make more sense.

Foods to avoid on the Paleo diet include:


Legumes (lentils, kidney beans, peanuts, soy)



Processed foods

Refined Sugar

Paleo Depression Foods To Avoid

Why Eat Paleo?

If you are seeking to alleviate the symptoms of depression with a Paleo diet there are several reasons to suggest that this could be a good idea.  The carbohydrates provided by Paleo foods are of a low-glycemic index, which means that they do not cause excessive rises in your insulin and blood sugar levels. Peaking blood sugar levels are known to increase your chances of mood-swings and other unwanted symptoms of depression, not to mention many diseases such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and gout.

The processed carbohydrates and gluten heavy foods excluded from the diet are also known to cause inflammation within your body. As inflammation causes depression, it clear that you are likely to get some good results by cutting out these foods.

A Paleo diet also makes your body slightly more alkaline – this is a good thing as it means that you can also fend off acid based imbalances that cause health problems such as osteoporosis, stroke, asthma and kidney stones – none of which will add to your mental health state if you come to suffer from them.

Live Paleo Too

Many people suffering from depression will allow themselves to become socially isolated and cease doing regular exercise. These two actions alone can have a negative effect on the person’s mental health.

There are a few key aspects to the Paleo lifestyle that can help: taking regular gentle exercise – such as walking or cycling, spending time in nature and connecting with your ‘tribe’ (socialising with like minded individuals) can all have great mood boosting benefits and make you more resilient to life’s ups and downs.

Further Reading

Although research as to why this awful illness is affecting more and more people across the globe is still inconclusive it is clear that seeking a more holistic way of living can really help. So if you’re more interested in finding an ancient solution to a modern problem and want to know more about Paleo, please explore the site or take a look here for further information

The Paleo Recipe Book