The Paleo diet may seem like a new diet craze, but it is actually millions of years old. It draws inspiration from the diet that our caveman ancestors ate, but is now combined with modern cooking methods and scientific research to back it up.
The main focus of the Paleo diet is the list of foods that are allowed. This includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, all vegetables, fruit (specifically berries), fermented foods, healthy oils like olive and coconut, as well as some nuts and seeds. The meat must be free-range, grass fed and preferably wild and the fish must only be the wild variety.
Agriculture only came along about 10 000 years ago, bringing with it foods that had not been eaten millions of years prior as we evolved. This is simply too short a time for our systems to adjust to these new foods. These foods include grains, grain-products, legumes, potatoes, dairy and processed vegetable and seed oils. Along with these foods came many of the modern diseases that are now rampant, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and autoimmune disease. Excluding these “non-paleo” foods reduces blood sugar levels, insulin levels and inflammation.
Paleo eaters exclude dairy product as they believe that dairy from an animal is specifically made for that baby animal and is not suitable for humans. Paleo enthusiasts are very pro-breastfeeding of their babies.
Advocates of the Paleo diet insist that it can be eaten by anyone and it can be tailored to your specific needs. For example, if you are diabetic you will eat a lower carbohydrate version of the diet compared to someone who is healthy.
Some common myths about the Paleo diet are that it encourages large quantities of meat being consumed daily. The truth is that the diet is more focused on eating large varieties of vegetables and healthy fats, with protein coming in third followed by fruits. This would have been how our Palaeolithic ancestors ate according to availability of these foods.
Another myth is that this is a weight loss diet. This is not really a diet, it is a lifestyle and one which aims to improve your body’s functioning and nutritional status while removing sources of inflammation. You may lose weight but this is just a positive side-effect.
The Paleo diet is not just about food and it also seeks to incorporate various lifestyle factors that would have been important to Palaeolithic man. These include time in the sun without sun block to make vitamin D; time spent being active in nature, weight lifting, travel and socialising.
Before you make any judgements about the Paleo diet, try it for 30 days and see if you notice any benefits to your health and your weight.