‘Paleo’, a word you must have heard being said by some more health-conscious, or maybe fashion following people around you. The paleo diet is also known as primal diet, caveman diet, hunter-gatherer diet, and even stone-age diet. In the past few years, it has gained popularity by both media and celebrities. Nowadays, it is a diet that is high in fashion. But what it is, a need or a fad is another question.
The paleolithic diet, as in the paleo diet, revolves around the concept of mirroring the eating habits and diet of people in the Paleolithic era. It is designed to follow what the hunter-gatherers used to eat centuries ago. Even though an exact idea of the eating habits of the ancestors living in different parts of the world cannot be made, but researchers believe that they consumed mainly whole foods. It is presumed that some of them ate more animal foods and fewer carbohydrates, while some ate lots of plants and more carbohydrates.
By adopting this type of diet and living physically active lives, it is presumed that the hunter-gatherers suffered through a lot fewer lifestyle diseases, for example, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Furthermore, it is concluded by several multiple that a paleo diet can result in major health improvements including a noticeable weight loss.
A brief preview
Before the ‘Neolithic’ period and the rise of agriculture, which is around 10,000 years ago, was the reign of the ‘Paleolithic period. The people of this era were hunter-gatherers. They hunted animals like antelopes, Elks, and bison, for food. They also forged for naturally grown vegetables and fruits. This is the core idea of the paleo diet, which entails the eating habits of the people of this era.
The new concept
For quite some time now, scientists, nutritionists, dieticians, and even doctors have been working on finding a link between the rising number of diseases and the eating habits of people in the modern world. Several types of research are being done. Some of them highlight the idea that the processed foods consumed today are having a negative influence on peoples’ health. Thus, some specialists concluded that returning to centuries-old eating habits will suit the human body.
The good news is that, unlike some other diets, the paleo diet drops the concept of calorie counting and portion control, to achieve the best result. It offers multiple variations considering the food intolerances and sensitivities such as carbohydrate sensitivity and lactose intolerance. This is due to the reason that the paleolithic people lived around the world, thus had access to various food sources.
What to eat and what not?
The Paleolithic diet consists of eating fewer carbohydrates, moderate protein, and more fats. The main idea is to replicate the living style of the prehistoric man since the genetic structure of humans has not changed during their evolution from hunter-gatherers to today’s farmers.
The human body finds it easy to handle foods such as fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats from seeds, nuts, fish oil, avocados, seafood, and grass-fed meat. That being said, what the bodies find difficult to handle are the processed foods, which make up most of what is eaten today.
The human ancestors lived physically active, and healthy lives, but with the evolution of society, people became lazier and unhealthy. So, there is a need to return to the roots and implement some of the ancient habits in today’s lifestyle, such as exercising outdoors, in the healthy sunshine.
What to avoid eating?
- High fructose and High sugar con syrups such as fruit juices, soft drinks, table sugar, pastries, ice cream, candy, etc.
- Grains such as bread, pasta, barley, wheat, Rye, etc.
- Legumes such as lentils, etc.
- Low-fat dairy item.
- Some vegetable oils such as sunflower, soya bean, corn, cottonseed, safflower, grapeseed, etc.
- Trans fats such as margarine, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
- Artificial sweeteners like sucralose, and saccharin, etc.
- Highly processed foods including diet and low-fat foods.
What to eat?
- Meat such as lamb, beef, pork, turkey, etc.
- Fish and seafood such as trout, salmon, haddock, shellfish, shrimp, etc.
- Vegetables such as broccoli, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, onions, etc.
- Fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas, avocados, pears, different berries, etc.
- Tubers such as yams, potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Seeds and nuts such as. Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, linseed and sunflower seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils and unprocessed fats such as coconut oil, and avocado oil, etc.
- Salt and other spices like sea salt, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and garlic, etc.
What to drink?
Water is the most important drink. You can drink tea since it is healthy and has loads of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. The best of all is green tea. You can also have coffee as it as well comprises many antioxidants and health benefits.
Benefits of the Paleo diet
Some proven advantages of the paleo diet are,
- Stable blood sugar,
- Better workouts,
- Reduced allergies,
- Improved sleep,
- Stored fat burn-off,
- Better teeth,
- Clear skin,
- Balanced energy.
The paleo diet is also better at improving type-2 diabetes as compared to the Mediterranean diet. It also aids autoimmunity since it cuts out grains and legumes.
Negative sides of the Paleo diet
The Paleolithic diet is simply not an easy diet to adapt and stick to. In today’s world, when there is a large market of processed foods, it is almost impossible to cut out dairy, bread, pizza, and all other processed foods from one’s life. Furthermore, making grass-fed meat, nuts, and other organic and natural foods a part of your life is quite expensive. So, having a cheat day in your diet plan can be a much-needed relief.
Another aspect is the kind of Paleo’s diet food available. In this time and day, when accessibility is not an issue anymore, quality is. As the ease of access increased, quality has somewhat suffered. And it may have a prominent outcome on peoples’ diet.
In that case, to implement a proper paleo diet, one must expand their weekly grocery budget and select products that are a bit more expensive.
Doubts about the Paleo diet
Paleo diet enthusiasts make some major claims, but there is not enough study or scientific evidence to back it. There is no doubt that it is a healthy diet, but it is also quite difficult and rigorous to follow. Every human is different from the other, with different levels of immunity, metabolism, and health. So, a paleo diet may seem to suit and benefit some, but it will also do little good for others.
What to contemplate when opting for the Paleo diet?
From far, a paleolithic diet may seem restrictive and tough, but it does offer a chance to cut processed foods and sugars from your diet which are one of the main reasons for poor health.
It is by no mean a diet that you can just give a temporary try. It is a lifestyle like it was in the paleolithic era. You can not just drop it after reaching your goal. It is something to maintain and accept for a long time.
Also, changing dietary habits is often linked with changing the whole lifestyle, to get the desired and full result. But that is not an effortless thing to accomplish. It not only changes your cooking style but also your spending pattern. In the case of the paleo diet, your cooking time will increase along with your budget for your groceries.
Overall, if implementing the Paleo diet is difficult, it is also worth the effort. It may not solve all health problems or cure every disease, but it does offer a healthier lifestyle and better wellbeing.