The Paleo Diet
If you choose the Paleo diet you can eat all lean meat, white or red, all seafood and as much as you want of fruits, berries and vegetables that do not contain starch. Do not eat dairy products, cereals, beans, starch or refined products.
The Paleo diet is an example of a so-called stone age diet or caveman diet. The idea is that food that comes directly from nature is the best food for humans. All methods to influence food with modern techniques, or other methods by the food industry, are in theory unnatural. Until agriculture came to the scene, about 10 thousand years ago, humans ate no cereals, beans, potatoes, milk or processed sugars. Therefore, do not do it yourself either!
Dr. Loren Cordain, one of the ideologists behind the Paleo diet, has studied the diet of our ancestors from the stone age. This field of study may be called nutritional anthropology. Paleo refers to the so-called “Paleolithic” period in human history. This time period was extremely long and is thought to have lasted from 2.5 million BC to 10,000 BC, just under 2.5 million years. Dr. Cordain has looked back a couple of million years into human history to explore the diet of our ancestors.
The rationale behind the Paleo concept is scientifically quite strong. Studies of DNA have shown that the human genetic pattern has changed very little in the 2.6 million years man has been living on earth. The human genome has changed less than 0.02% in the last 40 thousand years. Most modern diseases like cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease have emerged while we have experienced a huge change in our diet. The modern diet is completely different from the one humans have lived on for the overwhelming bulk of our time on the planet. Through fossil records a research we have a general idea about what the Paleolithic people ate and to tell you the truth it does not look like most of the refined foods humans eat today.
But what did the Paleo man eat and why. He did not drink milk because it was impossible for him to milk wild animals. He ate no cereal grains, he did not salt his food, he used no refined sugars or sweeteners, except possibly honey when he could find it. Wild animals were the main source of food for the Paleo man. His diet was rich in protein and low in carbohydrate. All carbohydrate came from fruits, berries and vegetables without starch, fiber was very high.
The average American Diet contains 31% of calories from cereals, 14% calories from dairy, 8% calories from beverages, especially sodas and fruit juices, 4% calories from oils and dressings, especially processed oils and omega-6´s, and 4% calories from sweets like candy, cookies and cake. Taken together this is 61%, indicating that modern man gets nearly two-thirds of calories consumed everyday from food that was largely unknown before the adoption of agriculture, about 10 thousand years ago. Most of them were´t even available until a couple of hundred years ago, when food processing became the norm. While the remaining 39% come from animal foods, much of it is different from the food of our cavemen ancestors. An example todays refined products of animal origin are hot dogs, fatty ground beef, bacon and highly processed deli meats.
Dr. Loren Cordain believes that a return to the diet of our ancestors, which is based on eating anything that you can hunt, fish, gather, grow or pluck will solve many of the health problems of today. Some have warned that protein intake may be excessive on the Paleo diet due to high consumption of meat and fish. Cordain claims that this will not be the case if you make sure to eat lots of vegetables, berries and fruits. Some have also criticized Cordains negative attitude to grains which many believe should be an important part of our diet today.
The Paleo diet has many positives. It’s simple, convenient and relatively easy to follow. You can basically eat as much as you want, meat, proteins and fiber naturally feels satiating. The Paleo diet was primarily designed as a natural healthy diet and not specifically as a weight control diet. If you are overweight and consume too much carbohydrate you will without doubt lose weight on the Paleo diet.
What you can eat on the Paleo diet:
- All lean meat
- Fish and shellfish
- All fruits and berries
- Most vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Honey, in some cases
- Whole grain products in some cases
What you should not eat on the Paleo diet:
- Dairy products
- Butter, cheese, cream, ice cream
- All cereal grains; rice, wheat, oat, barley, millet, rye
- Beans, legumes
- Sugary foods and artifcial sweets
- Starchy vegetables; potatoes (all types), sweet potatoes
- Salt containing foods; ketchup, hot dog, bacon, smoked meat or fish, most processed meats
- Soft drinks, fruit juice
Jonny Bowden PhD CNS
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