Introduction to the Paleolithic (Paleo) Diet — Your Guide to Living Simple and Healthy
Everyone has heard their fair share of jokes about cavemen. There have even been television commercials and sitcoms based on the stereotypical image of cavemen. Most people think of the cavemen as a figure of the distant past that has nothing to do with life in the modern world. This is why it comes as quite a shock to many people that the genetics making up the human body today were actually developed during the Stone Age; the era of the caveman.
This theory regarding the historic evolution of human genetics is the root of the Paleolithic Diet. This diet is also known as the Paleo diet. Its founders believe that it takes hundreds of thousands of years for human genetics to evolve to accommodate dietary changes that occur over time. If this is true, then the genes inside our bodies right now were established based on the diet consumed in the Stone Age.
There are some signs that this theory is correct. For instance, many people have trouble digesting wheat and other grain products today. This is likely due to the fact that wheat was only brought into the human diet about 10,000 years ago. If it does take hundreds of thousands of years for the human body to evolve to operate with new food sources, there just hasn’t been enough time for the human body to learn how to process wheat.
The Paleo diet encourages followers to understand what their bodies were designed to operate on and stick with those foods. That happens to be foods that were consumed by cavemen in the Paleolithic era, or the Stone Age.
So, what did cavemen eat?
It basically comes down to lean meats that could be hunted and fresh fruits, berries, vegetables, nuts and seeds that could be gathered.
One rule of thumb to keep in mind is that anything packaged in a box or bag is off limits for this diet. The Stone Age hunters and gatherers found their food fresh and consumed it fresh. They did not add preservatives to their fresh produce and they did not pump their wild animals with hormones.
Although many people believe all dairy is off limits with this diet, you can consume a limited quantity of eggs. The Paleo cavemen did enjoy eggs, but not to the extent that we consume them in the modern Western world. Protein sources should be more focused on lean meats, lean poultry, and some organ meats such as tongue and liver.
Consuming a variety of lean meat is the key to remaining full and satisfied on the Paleo diet. You should combine the meat with a variety of fresh produce as well as nuts and seeds as a source of healthy fat. Nuts have actually proven to cut the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol. They can even reduce your risk of developing some types of cancer, including breast cancer.
What is Your Goal?
When deciding what to eat on the Paleo diet, you have to think about what you are trying to accomplish. If you just want to reduce your risk of serious disease and live a well balanced, healthy lifestyle, you should consume a healthy mix of all foods allowed on the plan.
If your goal is to lose weight, then you should watch your intake of nuts and seeds while being extra vigilant to remove all fat from your meats. The fat in these foods is healthy, but too much could stand in your way of losing weight.
When in doubt about a food, think about how cavemen lived and ask if that food could have been found in their forests and fields. If not, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it, either.
Sugar and artificial sweeteners is a good example of this. Cavemen did not have access to sugary, so any sugary food is off limits. Today, there is a big debate over whether sugar or artificial sweeteners is better for the body. The cavemen would argue that none of it is healthy, including syrup.
In general, sugary, starchy, and dairy foods were not consumed during the Paleo era.
The Virtues of Protein
The Paleo diet is very different from the way most people eat today. It does require some adjustment, since many of the tasty foods available today are not acceptable on the plan. Yet, there are enough benefits to following a high protein diet rich in vegetables and fruits that most people adjust and feel better than ever on the diet.
Studies have shown that a high protein diet can take up to fifteen pounds off of the average person. That is a fifteen pound weight loss without exercise or counting every calorie that crosses your lips. If your goal is to lose weight, then you can add an active lifestyle and a bit of exercise to boost your weight loss for even greater success.
If you just want to learn to eat healthy so you live longer, then following the Paleo diet is definitely a step in the right direction.
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