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Last Updated on October 23, 2020
The Paleo Diet is so-called because it resembles humans’ diet during the Palaeolithic era about 2.6 million years ago. It is also referred to as the “Caveman” or “Stone Age” diet and is based on core principles from our hunter-gatherer, ancestral lifestyle. It is believed that following a diet of meat, seafood, eggs, vegetable, fruits, and nuts will keep us in perfect health. Here are 4 ways to embrace the Paleo lifestyle.
Millions of years ago, factories manufacturing food with chemical additives and high sugars and fats were not present. People had to gather food from their surroundings, which meant foraging fruits and vegetables and hunting animals for meat. It is assumed that Palaeolithic people had a physically active life as they had to hunt for food daily. A combination of this exercise and a whole-food-based diet led to low obesity rates, diabetes, and heart disease.
The Paleo diet focuses on unprocessed whole foods, lots of healthy fats including saturated fat derived from animals, grass-fed, free-range meat and eggs, lots of fish and seafood, vegetables, fruit, berries, nuts, and seeds. A true Palaeolithic diet excludes grains, legumes, and dairy as farming and animals’ rearing did not happen until after this era. However, some people include healthy dairy foods like kefir, full-fat natural yogurt, some aged cheese, and butter, but of course, it depends on your sensitivities. Excluding grains also makes this lifestyle suitable for people who need to cut gluten from their diet.
The Paleo diet’s big focus is that it is free from anything that is highly processed and made in a factory. Foods that should be avoided on the diet include:
- sugar and high-fructose corn syrup: Sugar-laden foods such as cakes, candy, some ready meals cause obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, fatigue, depression, and may cause cancer. Cutting out processed sugary foods is vital on the diet. Swapping candy for a piece of fruit or soft drinks for water, or health drinks such as protein water drinks is a sensible choice.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, grains contain lectins. Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that can bind with almost any tissue in our body bodies and reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, causing the gut’s lining to become inflamed.
- Trans fats: These are found in margarine and various processed foods and are usually referred to as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils. Trans fats raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol and they also lower your HDL (good) cholesterol. High LDL, along with low HDL levels, can cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries. This increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame potassium were not available thousands of years ago and may cause bowel irritation or even cancer.
- Highly processed foods: Everything labeled “diet” or “low-fat” or that has many additives. Artificial meal replacements are a big no-no on the Paleo diet.
The Good Stuff
Living on a diet free from highly processed foods has excellent advantages for our health. People embracing the Paleo diet have found that they have increased energy, clearer skin and healthier looking hair, experience better sleep patterns, have less bloating, and generally feel more fit, healthy, and happy. Most people experience weight loss and muscle growth while eating a Paleo diet exercising regularly.
The Paleo diet is high in fiber. A high fiber diet makes passing stools easier and therefore decreasing the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. The risk of colorectal cancer is also reduced. Fibre-rich foods also lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation.
Meals consisting of protein and good fats make you feel fuller for longer. The energy from these foods is released slowly and evenly throughout the day, so there are no drops in blood sugar. A reduction in blood sugar can lead to hunger, irritability, fatigue, disorientation, and a foggy mind. Some people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have been able to come off manufactured medication and reverse the diagnosis by following the Paleo diet. This makes perfect sense since the foods that caused the disease in the first place are eliminated.
Our ancestors followed the patterns of the sun and slept accordingly. When chemicals are cut from your diet and are not overriding the serotonin released by your brain, you may find that you become naturally tired at night. You will find you sleep better and feel more energized in the morning. This is your body getting in tune with the circadian rhythm, just like the prehistoric man was.