Paleo Diet’s Origins
The paleo diet has been around for more than forty years, but recently, it has enjoyed resurgence in popularity. At present, it is one of the most popular diet trends in America.
This comeback in popularity is due in part to its new supporters, including the Crossfit movement and Hollywood celebrities like Megan Fox, Jessica Biel, Miley Cyrus, and Matthew McConaughey.
Dr. Loren Cordain is one of the original researchers and authors backing the Paleo diet. His work in evolutionary medicine led him to believe that our early ancestors, homo sapiens, ate diets consisting mostly of meat (55% or more) though this claim has little to no grounding in archaeological research.
The first book modeled after this concept was written in the1970s. These books popularized the movement.
- The Stone Age Diet
- The Paelo Diet “Lose weight…eating the food you were designed to eat”
- The Primal Blueprint “Reprogram your genes…maximum longevity”
- The New Evolution Diet “Evolution Diet”
- NeaderThin “Eat like a caveman”
Paleo Diet Recommendations – Eating Like a Caveman
The Paleo diet argues that modern diets make us very ill, and in order to improve our health, we need to eat a diet that more closely resembles the diet that our Paleolithic ancestors ate from 2 ½ million years ago to 10,000 years ago.
Paleo diets vary somewhat from book to book. The overall concept is the same, though there is some variation in what foods are to be avoided. Recommendations regarding meat consumption differ as well.
In many ways, the paleo diet is the exact opposite of the USDA’s food pyramid; the original government guidelines for a healthy diet. Paleo diets say fats are okay, but grains are not. In a paleo pyramid, meat makes up the base. Starchy vegetables and grains that make up the top of the pyramid are the foods to be avoided or minimized.
Many paleo followers hold to the belief that through the majority of human history we were primarily meat eaters. In truth, we ate more plants than meat.
Paleo Diets Recommendations
- Meats & eggs,
- Seafood & fish
- Seeds & nuts
- Leafy greens
- Regional produce
- Tubers such as sweet potatoes and yams (In moderation)
Only grass-fed or free-range meat and wild caught seafood are recommended due to the fact that grain-fed animals and farmed fish are less healthy than animals fed their natural diet.
Other Prohibited Foods
- All processed foods
- Grains (no wheat, no pasta, no cereals)
- No sugars, no fructose, or grain sweeteners
- No beans
Most of the paleo diets exclude oils that are extracted through the use of chemicals or other unnatural means.
Since grains and processed foods are forbidden, the diet is naturally gluten free. Paleo dieters strongly recommend that everyone avoid gluten. They argue that nearly everyone is gluten intolerant.
Paleo diets avoid calorie counting. Proponents claim that Paleo foods are more nutritious and filling, so people are less likely to overeat, thus there is no need to count calories.
Paleo proponents claim the paleo diet reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure, reduces oxidative stress, and provides increased protection against neurodegenerative diseases. Paleo proponents also stand behind the Paleo diet as a treatment for diabetes. The diet is said to reduce glucose and insulin levels.
Paleo Diet’s Lack Of Authenticity
Although it is a great idea to emulate the diet of our ancestors to improve our health, it is not possible to eat exactly like our ancestors did even 20,000 years ago, much less 2 million years ago. The majority of plants and animals that made up early man’s diet are either long extinct or are so different as to be unrecognizable.
In many cases, harmful or undesirable characteristics have been bred out of our domesticated plants. Wild foods are often full of substances to deter predation. Some plants produce natural pesticides, others have thorns, and many produce toxic substances of all kinds. The process of domestication of plants minimizes or eliminates negative or undesirable traits. It also increases desirable traits. Domestication has increased nutrient levels, calories, and digestibility. It has also improved the efficiency of cultivating these plants both through increased practicality and productivity.
Though most of the changes in our food crops are beneficial, there are also plants and animals that have been declining in quality. GMO fruits, vegetables, and dairy; mercury laden, polluted, and radiated seafood; and factory raised livestock are far more toxic and less nutritious than their organic counterparts. All conventionally raised produce is less nutritious than organic produce.
The Real Paleo Diet
Human beings have been able to survive in a variety of climates. There are some indigenous populations, such as people living in arctic areas, who ate a lot of meat because they had limited access to plant resources. In areas where more plants were available, comparatively more plants were eaten. And many plants are unique to a region. People used the resources available to them to survive. These factors alone make it clear that there was not one paleo diet, but many. What they ate in common was a diet filled with whole, fresh, organic foods.
Also, a fact rarely emphasized in the paleo diet is that our ancestors ate organ meats and bone marrow. Bone marrow was a good source of easily assimilated calcium. Bone stock and bone marrow are not commonly eaten in modern day cuisine, though many health advocates have recently recommended them.
Foraging For Produce
In order to eat a true paleo diet, we would have to return to foraging for food. Unfortunately, time is not the only negative factor involved.
Some edible plants have poisonous look-alikes. One mistake with mushrooms, or berries, or some other type of wild plant could prove fatal. Some plants are only to be eaten in small amounts, because when consumed in large amounts, they can be harmful. Another serious obstacle to everyone adopting a foraging lifestyle is that the world’s ecosystems could not withstand 7 billion people abruptly switching over to hunting and gathering. There are simply too many of us for that to work. Our species still must utilize a more intensive guided approach to producing our food, such as gardening, farming, and aquaculture.
There are many truisms to the Paleo approach. We should attempt to emulate the diet of our ancestors, at least in regards to the big picture. A paleo diet had lower grain and carbohydrate consumption, more protein, and more fiber, than modern diets. Paleo diets were made up of fresh foods, many of them raw. On the downside, real paleo diets were actually less diverse, and less healthy than the best diet available to us today.
A diverse, fresh, organic, 80% raw, plant-based diet is the healthiest diet. A full 80% of your diet should consist of fresh, raw, organic produce – more vegetables than fruit. Your diet should also include omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil, flax seed oil, or an oil blend) as well as other healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil. Seeds and nuts should be soaked to release enzymes. All meat should be organic and beef should be grass fed. Remember, when you are eating at the top of the food chain, you are essentially eating whatever that animal ate. If you eat a diseased malnourish animal that was fed GMO grains and shot full of antibiotics and growth hormones, will it benefit you and your health?
To truly be healthy, avoid all processed foods. Do not eat artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. No BHA, BHT, MSG, or GMOs. No trans fats. No processed sugar. Limit caffeine.
There is a benefit to the paleo diet mindset. We do need to return to eating natural unadulterated foods. Just keep that 80% raw fresh produce in mind if your ultimate goal is true health and vitality. Check out the 80% Raw Food Diet and learn how to make your own Total Nutrition Powder for a nutritional boost of vitamins and minerals.
- Paleo Diet Explained – You Tube
- Paleo Diet Review by Doctor Oz – You Tube
- Debunking the Paleo Diet – The Singju Post