Everyone has heard the phrase “everything old is new again.” But the phrase does not only apply to the rebooting of television shows from your youth or the reinvention of World War II superheroes as modern-day fighters of injustice. I mean really old! Old, like dating from paleolithic times, some two and a half million up to just ten thousand years ago. Maybe you’ve heard about the paleolithic diet, or “caveman’s diet” as it is sometimes called, and been curious about it. Well, let me give you a little information about how our distant ancestors ate, and why such a diet can be just as beneficial to us.
Millions of years ago, our genetic forefathers lived off the land in the most primitive way. Their diet was limited to what they could hunt, or what they could gather growing wild in the environment. This meant lean, fresh meat and fish, whatever fruits and vegetables were available seasonably in the area, and little else save for a few nuts and berries. Ten thousand years ago, these wandering hunter-gatherers settled down and learned to farm. While this worked out well, in providing a stable form of nutrition, available year-round it caused other problems. New foods were introduced, foods that were edible and easy to produce, such as dairy products, grains, and legumes. Humans learned how to produce such foods quickly. The population increased, farming communities became towns, towns became cities, and so on. Civilization developed rapidly into an agricultural society, but, it seems, our bodies have not. The introduction of these more readily available foodstuffs has, it would seem, outpaced our body’s ability to evolve to keep pace. These days, we may do our hunting at the butcher shop and our gathering at the produce section of the supermarket, but our bodies still crave and thrive on, the foods our ancestors brought back to the cave.
So, what, exactly, are the benefits of the paleo diet? The first benefit of note is easier weight loss or healthy weight maintenance. Avoiding carbohydrates can increase weight loss and reduce body fat, as well as increase insulin effectiveness. Lower carb intake decreases the amount of insulin the pancreas needs to produce and conversely leads to the more effective use of the insulin it does produce. This leads to a decreased chance of type 2 diabetes. Heart health is improved by the decrease in carbs. A 2015 study indicates that the paleo diet can lead to a decrease in total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides, with a corresponding increase in beneficial HDL. The diet also provides more energy and a significant drop in inflammation in the body, which can contribute to arthritis, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
It’s important to make sure that what you’re putting into your body is natural and healthy for you to consume.
One of the main goals of the Paleo Diet is to make sure that your body gets as many nutrients as possible. Because this is a long term eating plan, you want to make sure that you have plenty of time to prepare and eat the foods that you are eating. You also want to keep your eating as simple as possible, which is why the Paleo Diet can be so easy to follow.
Now that you are aware of what the paleo diet is, and just how beneficial it can be, the next step is learning just what foods are included in this diet plan. There are many different caveman type diet plans, and not all of them are identical. But the fundamentals are simple enough. There are certain foods to include, and certain ones to avoid. First, let’s start with the good ones. Fruits and vegetables are a must, with nuts and seeds also on the good list. Lean meats, especially wild game or naturally fed livestock such as beef or free-range chickens, provide needed protein. Healthy fish, especially those rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna, are also good for you. And don’t overlook healthy plant oils, such as olive oil and walnut oil. But, unfortunately, just as there are good foods, there are also foods to avoid. These include grains such as wheat, oats, and barley. Avoid legumes like beans, lentils, peanuts, and peas. Dairy products are a no-no, as well as refined sugar and salt. And stay away from potatoes in any form, be they fried, baked, or boiled. And avoid all highly processed foods such as luncheon meats, breakfast cereals, bacon, hot dogs, and microwave meals. If a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you!
Following a paleo diet may seem, at first, a bit too stringent. But you can eat full, healthy meals with little sacrifice. Forego that sugary, colorful breakfast cereal for a piece of broiled salmon and half of the cantaloupe. At lunch, how about some chicken or tuna and a salad. Dinner could be a really nice grass-fed steak, with a salad and a fresh veggie on the side. For dessert, get used to fruit instead of that gooey chocolate cake. The hardest part may be snacking. No more candy, chips, pie, or ice cream. Get used to carrot sticks, celery sticks, or fruit. A paleo diet menu plan should not be discouraging, especially if you are a meat lover. And there are a lot more things to feel good about. Gone are the days of counting calories. With this diet, you are not limited in the amount of food you can eat, only the type of food. The focus is on feeling good by feeling full. You should never feel like you’re starving yourself. And there is no need to count carbs either, as you won’t be eating any. You should be feeling more energetic during the day because you will be avoiding those debilitating sugar slumps your body experiences when it comes down from a “sugar high”. And you may very well find yourself sleeping better at night as your body responds to serotonin, a chemical released by the body to indicate it’s time to sleep, is not overridden by other chemicals contained in processed food. And your body will be taking in more antioxidants from fruits as well as more phytonutrients and fibers from vegetables. This will have a detoxifying effect on the body, purging it of built-up waste products and accumulations, without any need for fasting or harsh purging. A sort of “lazy detox,” if you will.
There are so many advantages to this type of diet plan, that I find it difficult to imagine that anyone would mind giving up those frequent trips to a fast-food restaurant. When was the last time you saw Ronald Mcdonald and a caveman sharing a table?
The Paleo Diet Explained By Dr Oz