Stone Age Nutrition: What is a Paleo Diet?

Paleo diet is a modern diet that attempts to simulate the diet of our prehistoric ancestors. The name derives from Paleolithic – a period within the Stone Age that lasts over 3 million years. The point of the Paleo diet is to return to the eating habits of Stone Age hominins.

The main premise is that modern humans digest a lot of processed and unnatural food. The nutrients and their ratios are all out of whack, not the least is the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which used to be 1 to 1 but now over 10 for many of us. The result is a lot of bad diet-related conditions. Obesity, heart disease, blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes to name a few.

The idea is that caveman diet is far superior to the eating habit of today’s man. That the lifestyle before the rise of agriculture had more quality. It may have made our ancestors stronger, healthier and more immune. Today’s article goes over what is a paleo diet and what should you eat if you decide to try it out.

Why Do People Opt for a Paleo Diet?

Today’s meals are full of unhealthy fats, sugar, and processed and artificial ingredients. Diet-related diseases are on a constant rise. So, many people choose the reverse the issue. The belief is that humans that walked the earth millions of years ago led a much healthier lifestyle. The body evolved slowly and adapted to the environment.

People who choose the Paleo diet don’t trust modern food choices. The body hasn’t had time to adjust to new foods like legumes, grains, and dairy products. The thinking is that if we go back to the primary sources of food, our bodies will be healthier. These include fish, vegetables, fruit and herbs and excludes sugars, grains, legumes, trans fats, etc.

What Should We Eat?

Our early ancestors were constantly on the move, gathering, and hunting. Luckily, today we can find various fresh organic products in grocery stores. There is no need to learn any survival skills!

Paleo-approved foods are various and still open to debate. The main point is that we can eat everything that was available in the same form back in Paleolithic times. But nobody knows for certain what these foods were.

But we can all agree on the following:

Meat and Seafood

Meat is an important source of protein. It stops hunger and builds cells. The recommended meat is grass-fed rather than grain-fed. The meats from grass-fed animals are closest to what our ancestors ate. It is better for your body and contains more omega-3 and less omega-6 fatty acids than grain-fed. This prevents inflammations.

If you opt for fish, the best that you can do is try to find wild-caught rather than farm-raised fish. As for poultry, it would be good to go with uncaged free-range chicken and turkey.

Paleo-approved meats include:

  • Chicken
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • Shellfish

Fruit and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other healthy compounds. Today’s fruit and vegetables are grown in non-Paleo conditions. They may contain pesticides, added sugars, and other artificial substances. Make sure to look for organic and non-processed fruits and vegetables to get as close as you can to Paleolithic diet.

Approved vegetables include but are not limited to:

  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrot
  • Onions
  • Brussel’s sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes

And for fruits:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, chokeberries, blackberries…)
  • Peaches
  • Plum
  • Avocado
  • Melon
  • Banana
  • Citrus fruits
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mango

Eggs

Eggs are rich in proteins, minerals, vitamin B and antioxidants. Cavemen loved them, so they are a good addition to the Paleo diet. Try to find eggs from free-range chickens as they are healthier.

Nuts and Seeds

Like eggs, nuts and seeds are full of protein. They can make you full and your cells stronger. They also contain a high amount of fiber and healthy fats. Our ancestors foraged them everywhere, and you should too. At the stores, of course.

Oils

Paleolithic humans didn’t know how to extract oils from plants. But, because they come directly from plants, you can use some of these oils. These oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to various degrees, which can be great for heart rate and preventing inflammation. You can consume some of these oils in moderation.

The allowed oils include:

  • Olive oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Coconut oil

Tea

Besides water, some people say tea should be part of a paleo diet too. For example, herbals teas are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They should be a part of your nutrition.

Foods to Avoid if You’re on a Paleo Diet?

If you dedicate yourself to a strict paleo diet, you should give up the following:

  • Grains: cereal, bread, beer, pasta, cookies, and many other products. They became part of our diet with the rise of modern agriculture. High on carbs, they can raise your blood sugar levels.
  • Processed foods: refined vegetable oils, sugars, sa02lt, artificial sweeteners. You’ve probably heard all about the evils of processed food products.
  • Legumes: peas, beans, peanuts, soy, lentils, etc. You should avoid them because of the high contents of phytic acid and lectins. Although some believe they contain more beneficial than harmful substances.
  • Dairy products
  • Soft drinks and juices
  • Starchy vegetables

Does It Work?

There are many debates regarding what is a Paleo diet. And whether this diet makes sense. Nobody can be completely certain about what our ancestors ate. Also, the variety of today’s diets on a global scale shows that people are flexible in their nutrition and can adapt quickly.

But the foods listed in the Paleo diet are all healthy and you can only benefit from them. You’d be removing processed foods naturally from your habits and focus on organic and healthy meals. There are no strict schedules or lists. Eating less sugar and processed food can boost your immunity and help you stay fit.

There is no way to know for sure the benefits of the Paleo diet. Our ancestors moved around a lot due to their hunting and nomadic nature. If you want to fully reap the rewards, you should exercise often and keep your body fresh.

 

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182
https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/paleolithic-diets/
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/paleo-diet/

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