When I think of Paleo, I think of going back to the basics, back to the roots of human society. The nutrition basics that our ancestors lived on where they fished, hunted, and gathered. How could they even dream of fast food drive throughs, microwaves or deep freezers? Life was simple, if they didn’t catch any protein that day, they didn’t eat.
Some things have changed, and probably for the best. Today we have farms and ranches, we grow our own produce and raise our own livestock. But, there is something to be said for the way our ancestors ate, they had less metabolic diseases and food allergies. Be it a little bit tougher to hunt and gather these days, we can still mimic their diets to a close degree.
(Que Paleo Diet)
The “Paleo” Lifestyle comes from the word “Paleolithic”, as in the cavemen days. It’s a prehistoric lifestyle that focuses on simplifying the diet to where it all started, back in the day. The reason for all this is in the effort to decrease the uproar of allergies, intolerances, and diseases (metabolic and others alike).
Reduce cardiovascular disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis, multiple sclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, you get the picture.
The Paleo lifestyle has been around for a while, but until recently has been amongst the less common diets that people adopt because of its complicated obligations. It demands a total recall on all added sugars, grains, dairy, legumes, beans, and salt. Wow, think about all the foods you would have to give up in order to even begin the paleo diet. Let’s clear out the shelves on the pantry, grab a donation box and get to work.
How Does the Paleo Diet Taste?
The Paleo lifestyle allows several factors to be included, but only the bare and basic nutrition your body needs. This lifestyle blossoms with the obligation that if it can be hunted, fished or gathered- eat it. The reason behind this is because our bodies are predisposed to eating this way, you can thank our great grand parents a million times over for this. Foods to include would be ..
- Vegetables (roots, tubers, leaves, flowers, stems)
- Wild game
- Wild caught fish
- Nuts and Seeds
When the food industry started adding additional food categories such as dairy, raised livestock, chemically altered produce, wheat, cultivated grains, sugar etc into our diet, the incidence of disease started to appear.
What Do the Dietitians Say?
With all things being said, the paleo lifestyle is a very good start to eating right. It’s goes back to the basics and re-trains your body to eat when it’s hungry- stop when it’s full. It cuts out processed foods and sugars, giving your body and mind a chance to re-set with decreased sweet tooth cravings. The amount of fresh fruit and vegetables with the addition of protein can help lower and maintain blood sugar levels, regulate blood pressure and may contribute to weight loss.
So what does the opposite side say?
There is always two sides to the story. Some Dietitians say a person who adopts the paleo lifestyle may fall short on recommended carbohydrates to meet the body’s need over time. Certain types of grain is preferred to live without, such as white breads, potatoes, and white rice but whole grains are a key provider of certain nutrients including fiber and carbohydrates. Dairy and legumes are important aspects of our diet as well, supplying calcium & vitamin D. Legumes provide protein and other vitamins.
Research has also shown that our ancestors were NOT free of disease like we think they were. In fact, atherosclerosis and clogged arteries were very common back in the day due to the amount of animal protein they ate.
The most important thing to remember while engaging in a lifestyle that eliminates food groups is to be aware of how it is affecting your body. Listen to your body, not what somebody else thinks is best for you. Supplements or alternatives may need to be explored if a person does not consume certain food groups like dairy, whole grains or legumes.
Adopting the Paleo
Today, our society makes it extremely hard to adopt these principles such as paleo, vegan, vegetarian etc because of the way the food industry is set up. We can’t just go ride around on horses hunting wild game every night for dinner (although, I’m sure my husband wouldn’t be opposed to do so if he had the chance). Even gathering wholesome wild grown fruits and vegetables is a major task on it’s own. But what can we do?
Organic produce and home grown sources of fruits and vegetables are the next best thing to “gather” on your dinner table. Community farms and farmer markets are blessings that should be sought after, not just for special occasions. Furthermore, wild caught fish, game, and grass fed meat are likely to resemble our ancestor’s diet as well.
There are always choices to make in life, the best ones will bring you health and happiness. Listen to your body, if one lifestyle works better – take the pledge to nourish your body.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Should we eat like our caveman ancestors reviewed by: Jill Kohn. http://www.eatright.org
Precision Nutrition. The Paleo Problem: examining the pros and cons of the Paleo diet by: Brian Pierre. http://www.precisionnutrition.com
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