What It Is
Orzo is pasta shaped like large grains of rice. Since pasta is not Paleo, neither is orzo.
Pasta is made primarily from wheat mixed with water. I hope you know by now that wheat is not Paleo-friendly, but if you don’t, we’ll break it down for you.
Paleo and Gluten
The main offender in wheat is gluten. You may be wondering why we’re just making a big deal out of this now when people have been eating gluten-containing wheat for millennia and it never seemed to be a problem. Well, back in the 1960s they came up with a variety of wheat called dwarf wheat. This was supposed to solve world hunger by being able to produce more wheat in less time.
Unfortunately, it came with a downside. Dwarf wheat is higher in gluten and lower in nutrients than the wheat we had been accustomed to eating. The rise in Celiac disease is a result of the introduction of dwarf wheat.
At the same time, health experts started chanting the low-fat mantra, leading people to believe that pasta (being low in fat and high in fiber) was a heart-healthy food that would help people lose weight. Neither of these assertions are actually true. Wheat is extremely inflammatory, even in individuals who don’t suffer from gluten intolerance, and inflammation (not cholesterol) increases the risk for heart disease.
Gluten also increases gut permeability, which allows toxins and undigested food to enter the bloodstream. This sets off an immune response in which the body rushes white blood cells to the area to fight off the toxins. Eating wheat on a regular basis makes sure our bodies are in a constant immune response and the inflammation never has a chance to recede. Chronic inflammation is linked to all sorts of chronic illnesses, from obesity to cancer.
Mark Sisson has a whole list of reasons why grains are unhealthy.