So Easy a Caveman Can do It?
What our ancestors may have been eating tens of thousands of years ago is a lot different than what we find in our grocery stores today.
Conventional agriculture was not even a part of our culture until 10,000 years ago. This means wheat and dairy were practically nonexistent in our diets.
As chronic disease continues to bankrupt our healthcare system, many consumers are turning to alternative health and other strategies to reclaim their paleo roots.
"Paleo" is more of a lifestyle than it is a diet.The plan?
- Eat like a caveman.
- Exercise like a caveman.
- Think like a caveman.
- Be spiritual like a caveman.
The current Standard American Diet is high in refined carbs and food chemicals. If your food comes in a box, doesn't come out of the ground, or off of a tree, it's unlikely to be paleo.
Paleo diet advocates eat very high levels of protein from meat, fish and poultry. Grassfed is better than grainfed...pasture-fed is better then cage-free. Why? Well why pay a premium for organic meat that is only organic because the grains it was fed were organic.
The paleo diet is also very careful with carbs. It is very similar to the Atkins diet, but before you're eating just meat and nuts...paleo advocates know that they need a liberal amount of carbs from vegetables. This means mixing bowl sized salads! It also means eating multiple times throughout the day.
If you look at primates, primates are eating practically all day on the vegetable matter around them. Yes they will eat meat, but for the most part our ancestors were foragers of the land. If you watch any survival shows like the Discovery Channel's Man vs. Wild, you'll see that the diets were high in protein from a variety of sources including insects, animals, and plants in one's environment. There's periods where food is widely available, and other stretches of long hours without food.
Delivery pizza was not part of a caveman lifestyle. You needed to move to acquire your food, you're not becoming paleo by sitting playing World of Warcraft for hours straight!
A number of paleo advocates report some rather substantial health benefits. Improvements in markers for diabetes and heart disease are often noted. Support for autoimmune problems like rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimoto's thyroiditis also seem promising.
Because the diet is controversially high in fat, it does have its critics. With the results they are getting, Paleo advocates are keeping medicine and researchers on their toes! Maybe, just maybe the science will evolve (or de-evolve) as case studies continue adding up.
Wheat, dairy, and soy which are absent from a strict paleo lifestyle, have proteins that are problematic for many individuals and have been hypothesized to play an important role in the development of autoimmune, neurological, musculoskeletal and allergic conditions.
Carbs from sweet potatoes and root vegetables like carrots and turnips can help transition a person from a Standard American Diet to a Paleo Diet. If you've never sliced sweet potatoes like chips, coated them with cinnamon and a heat-tolerable oil like grapeseed, and baked for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, don't tell me a paleo diet doesn't taste good!