Kidney and heart problems from the Paleo diet

Answered on July 25, 2019
Created January 11, 2017 at 9:09 AM

I ate paleo for seven months due to severe digestive problems I had for several years. I was completely unable to tolerate even small amounts of dairy or gluten and I was depressed from having to follow such a restrictive diet. I saw many doctors but they didn’t provide me any help as all they just kept saying that I had IBS and that I should try to eat more fiber. I decided to try to find a solution by myself and by surfing on the internet, I found the Paleo diet. I thought that by following this diet, I would be able to heal my gut and be able to eat everything again.

So I started a high fat, very low carb Paleo diet and I first felt wonderful: my stomach was functioning normally and I was feeling very energetic. However, I soon started to experience severe fatigue such that I had to stop all physical activity as I was feeling too weak. This was hard for me as I used to love sport and used to be physically very active. I still continued to follow the diet because I thought that this shitty feeling was due to a Herxheimer reaction and that it was normal for me to feel really bad before I would get better. I was so desperate to be able to resume a normal diet again that I continued despite the warnings that my body was sending me: I was constantly feeling tired, grumpy and I had severe brain fog.

After having followed the Paleo diet for seven months, I ultimately had to stop because I developed severe chest pain and was having problems breathing while I was only 20 years old. This was really worrying me, so I decided to go see a doctor. Even though I was feeling very weak, I wouldn’t have imagined how bad my condition really was: I was diagnosed with stage 4 chronic kidney disease and coronary artery disease.

After seven months on the Paleo diet, I was no better able to tolerate gluten or dairy than before starting the diet, but I had become chronically ill. I didn’t need to follow a Paleo diet as stopping all gluten and dairy was enough to control my digestive symptoms, but I did so in the false hope of healing my gut.

I high fat, low carb diet certainly isn’t healthy in the long term. Please don’t make the same mistake as I did.

Medium avatar


on September 14, 2017
at 10:47 PM


Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all diet for people 

Very healthy people can get away with it for a while but that's not most people these days. You really must have your body tested for mineral balance. Minerals are the spark plugs of life...they are the foundation.  I had my minerals tested so that I could see what my individual biochemistry was if you want to know what I did contact me on here or FB. :))))  I used to be like you on these forums going to some of that being mildly successful never fixing the deeper problems. I was so confused because everything is so contradictory and there's so many symptoms and they all overlap know what I mean?  Now I know it's going on with my body and it's the best thing I ever did for myself You've no idea the peace of mind it can bring.


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6 Answers


on July 25, 2019
at 09:15 AM

I tried a paleo diet and shortly after being diagnosed with diabetes. It didn't work at all for me. I felt so sick all the time. I think it's great that others find paleo beneficial, but not for me. I'm not sure of the claims from a scientific point, but the important thing is it just didn't fit my experiences in my body.

I have managed my weight well with lots of small meals, 5-6 a day. It keeps my blood sugar under control and allows me to have continued energy. One of the major drawbacks of the Paleo diet is that you have to avoid dairy, legumes, and whole grains which are a great source of dietary fiber and helps you overcome chances of cardiovascular disease. In short  Paleo Diet Could Be Bad For Your Heart Health



on November 10, 2017
at 02:02 AM

Graleh, thank you for sharing your experience and I must agree with your conclusion... we each have to figure out what works for us and nothing is really absolute.  To have something, anything, not work for months without questioning and testing is in my opinion pretty stupid.  Blessings on all you folks in Missouri, the "show me" state :)  It's our health and longevity we're discussing here... it's not a quick fix, take this pill or supplement, or anything else that is automatic or easy... it's changing how we look at food, at living, at eating.  Probably no one size fits all exactly but I'm learning that following closely but not exactly to the letter Paleo or Primal protocols with a mix of my own common sense and experience is working very well for me, and if I have a problem, I look first to my habits and choices.  I try not to blame others for choices I have made.  I value all of the collective wisdom and experience I'm finding to help me make better choices.  They will always be my choices... or at least I hope so... how awful if the "recommendations" of the many government agencies had actually been forced on us... we would be eating coco puffs and french fries and avoiding eggs and animal protein.  Totally upside down and we all die early deaths!  Choice is a prominent word and concept.  It means we own our decisions, no one holds a gun to our heads and makes us consume anything.  It's all choice.

Medium avatar

on November 06, 2017
at 09:04 AM

I was on Paleo diet for 4 years. 

I went from eating lots of bad carbs, white sugar, gluten, etc. so strict Paleo. I cut out all rice, potatoes and such. 

My mood got better and I lost weight. My blood tests came back better than ever. But I still got more and more symtom of fatigue and depression.

I crashed in june 2017 and now I have understood that I might have done it wrong. I was eating looooots of nuts and red meat on Paleo. Several times, every day. I ate tons of protein and nuts. Esp coconuts and almonds. Nut flour in every meal, bascially. And lots of dried fruits. 

Today I have tons of food allergies as well as histamine intolerance which developed slowly. 

I am more into Paleo AIP and trying to cut out gluten contaminated food. But I am allowing myself to eat buckwheat, for example. Hope this will help me recover. 

I have read about more people getting worse on Paleo. I think being strict in a diet is not good no matter what diet it is. 

Medium avatar

on October 20, 2017
at 05:41 PM

Hi. I'd suspect that something else was going on altogether. I have a special needs son who had a kidney transplant 17 years ago. I put him on a Paleo diet 3-1/2 years ago after following the hospital dietician's recommended diet and traditional supplemental drinks. The diet they recommended caused him to become diabetic - sugar 210 2 hours after eating! The doctor prescribed insulin and sent us home. He said the meds that he's on for the transplant caused the diabetes. Pffftt. He went Paleo within days (thank you, sis!).

I never did give him insulin. Within a week of going Paleo, his sugar levels were under control. I was also able to slowly wean him off of his PPI medication that he had been on for YEARS. Within the last two years, he went from being on 7.5 mg of Amlodipine (blood pressure medication) to being on NO blood pressure medication as of this past spring. He gets monthly bloodwork because of his kidney transplant. He hasn't suffered any ill side effects to his kidney. That includes monthly checks on his cholesterol levels.

HOWEVER...is a BIG however. He has developed hyperparathyroidism. Chronic kidney failure could be one cause, cancer could be another. A THIRD possibility is too little calcium in his diet, or his inability to absorb the calcium he does get. He has an appointment with an endocrinologist in two months, but in the mean time, I'm going to give him raw, organic goat milk...pasturized by me (too afraid to give him raw because of suppressed immune system) with lactase added back to it since that's destroyed by heating the milk. Call me an optomistic, but I choose to believe that he does not have cancer since he gets so little sugar and sugar feeds cancer, and his kidney is doing okay after 17 years. So here's hoping that taking milk out of his diet is the cause. He did used to drink a LOT of milk.

So, is Paleo perfect? I don't know, but it certainly has helped his health TREMENDOUSLY and it will be interesting to see if his hypepararthyroidism improves by giving him milk! And it really is SO nice to have been able to see the improvements in him since going Paleo, with monthly labwork to see the proof!

P.S. I went Paleo(ish) a couple of months after him and lost 40 pounds in 4 months and have kept it off  :)


on October 18, 2017
at 12:49 AM

Haykael is raising a valid point and the answer does not address it.  Protein does put a stress on the kidneys and low hydration exacerbates it.  The Paleo diet or lifestyle certainly does not *cause* it, but it IS a result of the high protein consumption absent increased water/fluid intake.  I'm not a doctor (grin) but I have involved my doctor in the choices I'm making to manage high blood pressure and diabetes risk with diet and exercise, minimizing reliance on pharmaceuticels, opting for the long term fix.  My personal "science" (blood tests) showed an elevation in a couple of indicators of kidney stress after adopting a "modified" Paleo/Primal diet.  Increasing my fluids resulted in a return to normal in about three weeks.  I don't know where I would have ended up without realizing I needed more water!  May not be the case for everyone, but cluing folks in to a possible effect on thier kidneys might be helpful?




on January 17, 2017
at 07:51 PM

Uh, wait, so you found out you have stage 4 kidney disease and somehow you assumed that the root cause was going paleo?  How and why?  What part of the paleo diet would cause kidney damage exactly or CAD?

Certainly a high fat low carb version of the paleo diet will cause the "low carb flu" which is most likely what you felt when you were low on energy as your mitochondira switch from burning carbs to burning ketoes.

But there's no correlation there with kidney damage.  There is however correlation of eating a high carb diet with both heart disease and kidney disease.  If you eat so many carbs that you're pre-diabetic, you'll start dumping glucose in your urine and that process does damage your kidneys.  High carbs also cause the creation of high triglycerides, which you guessed it, cause arterial damage and plaques.  High blood sugar by itself and the failure to properly dispose of fructose are two of the most damaging causes of arterial disease.

BTW: Stopping dairy and gluten are 75% of the paleo diet.  The other 25% are stopping legumes and industrial seed oils - those are the true culprits of heart disease.  Even conventional medicide has recognized that saturated fat and cholesterol are not an cause for heart disease, but that trans fats are. Things like soy, corn, "vegetable", canola and other highly refined oils are problematic.

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