The Paleolithic Diet, often referred to as the “Paleo Diet” or the “Caveman Diet”, is the theory that eating food that our ancestors would have found and consumed would best fulfill our nutritional needs and immerse us in healthier lifestyle.
The Paleolithic Era was a pre-agricultural period most notable for its apelike creatures that, given time, have since developed into today’s Homo sapiens. These creatures typically found food by hunting and gathering and often moved about in small packs to collect enough resources.
The diet of Paleolithic creatures consisted of lean meats, seafood, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Because the Paleolithic Era was before the discovery of fire, it was then preferred that most items be consumed raw, but nonetheless, studies have shown that various recipes of theirs used some source of heat in preparation. With this added stage of composition, focus centered on foods such as grass-produced meats, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, and seeds. There is an avoidance of dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, salt, whole grains, and legumes and an emphasis on exercise.
The main benefit to this diet would be the increased intake of nutrition, including protein, fat, fiber, potassium, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also includes a lower intake of sodium, carbohydrates, and processed foods. This combination is claimed to decrease chances of chronic illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cardiovascular diseases. The Paleo Diet is said to enhance the digestive system’s efficiency, reduce migraines and excessive weight, and decrease anxiety and sleep problems, all while increasing energy.
The Paleo Diet, in comparison to the USDA’s recommended nutritional needs, is dissimilar, as the two don’t quite see eye to eye. According to the USDA’s requirements, the Paleo Diet makes it difficult to consume enough grains, and almost impossible to acquire enough dairy. A lack of Calcium and Vitamin D, unless you live in the wild like these apelike ancestors of ours did, is especially a concern in terms of illness and osteoporosis. This is where supplementation of Vitamin D and Calcium is a good idea. The main dietary concern associated with the Paleo Diet is the probable lack of whole grains. Whole grains can improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels and can decrease one’s Body Mass Index. In addition, a low enough intake of sodium can decrease metabolic rate and thyroid function.
Some criticism to this ancestral diet is that it’s not appropriate for modern times. In our current agricultural system, where animals are slaughtered for hours, if not days, before consumption, it is recommended that all meats be thoroughly cooked to prevent parasitic infection. In the Paleolithic Period, animals were consumed right after being slaughtered, and the risk of infection was much less likely. Another concern that comes with the Paleo Diet is its availability. There are not a lot of companies that provide grass-fed meat and supplying it on a worldwide basis would prove extremely difficult.
All in all, the Paleo Diet has many positive and negative characteristics. It is important to remember that even though on its surface it doesn’t meet the USDA’s dietary recommendations, this diet involves consuming a lot of fruits and vegetables that can fulfill your nutritional needs. If you choose to start living a Paleolithic lifestyle, it’s very important to make sure you balance your diet and acquire all the needed nutrients.
So, if you absolutely love fruits and vegetables but are not a huge fan of meats, grains, or dairy – due to allergies or personal preference – you love exercising, or you just feel like making a change, then go for it! But if you feel satisfied with your diet and exercise routine and are not looking for a drastic change then it might be nice to save this idea for a rainy day and opt for something different. Try Bungee jumping?