The Paleo Diet which is also known as the ‘Caveman Diet’ and ‘Stone Age Diet’ is a very popular diet that is high in proteins, omega 3 fats, monounsaturated fats, and fibre with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Although the Paleo diet is not promoted as a low-carb diet, it is simply because foods such as grains, legumes, and processed foods are not allowed! There are actually several Paleo Diets, some more relaxed than others. The good news is that the Paleo Diet is easy to follow and can be continued for many years and become a lifestyle choice.
A little history…
The Paleo Diet gets its name from the Greek word ‘paleo’ meaning ‘old’. This is referring to the fact that the diet encourages followers to eat similar foods to those eaten by man in the Palaeolithic period – more than two million years ago. In those days, man was a hunter-gatherer and ate only ‘whole foods’ such as meat, fish and fruit. Ancient man did not drink milk nor did he consume dairy products or convenience foods.
In the 1970s, Walter Voegtlin, the gastroenterologist, designed the Paleo Diet as he felt that eating like an early man could make modern man healthier, especially when coupled with plenty of physical activity. He believed that man is genetically mismatched to many of the modern foods that have evolved from modern farming methods and the invention of processed foods. He was also convinced that genetic mismatching was causing modern lifestyle diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
The Paleo diet did not gain huge popularity until 2002 when the bestseller ‘The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight & Get Healthy’ by Dr. Loren Cordain was published and the diet suddenly gained worldwide interest.
Is Paleo Diet good?
The Paleo Diet is a good way to lose weight and because it is not a strict diet with calculating weights and calories of all the things you eat. The diet is more about choosing the correct foods to eat and can be followed long term which ensures that that you not only lose the weight, but that you keep trim. This is achieved because the diet is low in carbohydrates and sugar.
Some other benefits of following the Paleo Diet include improved sugar levels and better control of blood pressure.
Interestingly, about ten years ago, Dr. Staffan Lindeberg from Lunde University in Sweden made some groundbreaking research with the Kitaven people who live on Kitava Island near Papua New Guinea. This community consists of about 2,500 people, who are not westernised in any way and their diet is very similar to the Paleo Diet. Dr. Lindeberg found them all to be in extremely good health and none of them were overweight nor did any of them have high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes. He also noticed that none of the teenagers had any problems with acne either.
Which foods are good for Paleo diet?
The Paleo Diet is based on fresh lean meat, fish, and seafood(especially oily fish). Plenty of fruit (except high sugar melons and bananas), vegetables, and nuts should be consumed and these are all foods that the ancient hunter-gatherers regularly ate. Grass-fed and organic meat is considered even better for the diet. Oils made from fruit or nuts are good and these include olive oil and walnut oil.
If you follow the diet, you are recommended to drink plenty of water. Natural unsweetened fruit juices are good, as are unsweetened sparkling waters. A small number of black coffees and black tea can be enjoyed. A very moderate amount of wine is allowed and also hard cider and tequila as none of these contain any grains.
Which foods must be avoided?
The Paleo avoids all refined grains which include white flour, bread, and pasta. Other foods that are not allowed when following the Paleo Diet include all baked foods, snack foods, and breakfast cereals.
Refined sugars should be avoided and potatoes must not be eaten and the consumption of salt must be kept to a minimum.
In recent years, new versions of the Paleo Diet have appeared as some nutritionists have been concerned that not including dairy products in the diet can lead to a lack of calcium. Some of the newer versions of the diet include a moderate amount of yogurt and some now include legumes too.
The message of the Paleo Diet is clear. We need to attain a good balance between our genetic hunter-gatherer legacy and the best food technology we enjoy in our modern world…