By: Devan Sticka (06/12/18 6:01)
A paleo diet involves clean eating practices from the Paleolithic era, the longest of human history. The ancestors of over 2 million years ago, but that concluded their lifestyle around 10,000 years ago, followed this diet.
They lived off of nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, shellfish and meat. The people of this era were gatherers and hunters.
When the agricultural revolution came along, it wiped out the lifestyle they knew and replaced it with stockpiling and cultivation of wheat, maize and rice.
Going from a natural, organic diet to one filled with processed foods, grains, legumes and dairy is considered unnatural to proponents of the paleo diet. Technically speaking, humans are still only adapted to the foods of that time. Processed foods are blamed for civilizations current diseases, such as cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes because our bodies are ill-adapted to a western diet.
The basic principles of eating a paleo diet are: do eat grass-fed meats, fish and seafoods, eggs, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats live olive, coconut, walnut, avocado and flaxseed oils; don’t eat dairy, added sugars, processed foods, refined oils, grains, legumes and starchy vegetables like potatoes.
Avoid sodium, refined sugars, simple carbohydrates, saturated fat and anything canned, packaged or processed. Get lots of fiber, minerals, vitamins, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats. Also, no alcoholic beverages or coffee.
Eating paleo means eating organically produced foods, you will not be ingesting preservatives, additives, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and growth stimulants creating an overall clean eating experience.
Paleo era humans included about three times more fruits and vegetables into their diet than the average American today. Consuming more of the colorful fruits and vegetables with lots of fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C and E strengthens the immune system and lowers the risks of cancer.
Eating paleo forces oneself to cook at home rather than go out to eat at a restaurant or fast food chain causing oneself to take in less calories.
However, there are a few risks within the paleo diet. There are no recommended portion sizes, and since there are very few foods within the diet, overeating is a major risk. Losing weight on the paleo diet is all about balancing a serving of protein, fat and produce at each meal, with added physical activity. People on the paleo diet will gain or lose weight at different rates.
Eating on a paleo diet can help improve waist circumference, triglycerides, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol and fasting blood sugar. Eating a paleo diet for as little two weeks helped those with metabolic syndrome, a condition involving a higher risk of gaining diabetes, stroke and coronary heart disease that affects up to 47 million adult Americans.
Paleo diets increase insulin sensitivity compared to the American Diabetes Association recommended diet of eating whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy. Paleo improved glucose management and lipid profiles, especially in those with type 2 diabetes.
This diet helps manage, and sometimes, clear acne, as well. Considered a disease of the western world, acne does not exist in small islanders who live off of meat, vegetables, fruits, fish and tuber with a low glycemic index, and dairy, alcohol, cereal grains, sugar and salt do not exist in the people’s daily diet.
Those who participate in a paleo diet emphasize the more humane affects. The meats eaten in a paleo diet do not come from a factory setting, but rather eat grass-fed, free-range meats, wild game and pastured, free-range meats.
Paleo diets are more ecofriendly and supports organic farming practices that uphold the principles of biodiversity, conservation and nature-based agricultural techniques.
There is less animal waste in a paleo diet, the whole animal is eaten. Organs, blood, bones and fats all have a purpose. Offal (organs) is good for you and there are many ways to prepare it that tricks the brain into forgetting that it is an organ. Bones can be boiled into a nutritious broth, and animal fat can be made into cooking oil.
The major health benefits of going on a paleo diet are a clean diet with no additives, preservatives or chemicals, and it serves as an anti-inflammatory benefit. This comes from the plant nutrients in fruits, seeds, vegetables, oils and nuts. More red meat means more iron, and there is an improved feeling of fullness between meals, as well. There is a higher take of protein and fats. The advantage is that many people who make the switch will lose weight due to the limited food choices.
However, there are some disadvantages. A paleo diet can get expensive. One does not get any grains or dairy, which is good for health and energy. It can be a difficult diet for vegetarians, and it is not an ideal diet for athletes who need three to six grams of carbs per pound of their body weight. The risks of going on a paleo diet include overeating due to the limited food choices and no recommended portion sizes. This diet can also put one in risk of vitamin D and calcium deficiency. The saturated fats and protein can be consumed way above recommended levels causing the risks of a higher chance for kidney and heart disease, and certain cancers, as well.
When switching over to a paleo diet, there can be a feeling of glumness because of cutout starches, processed foods and grains. The body might crave sugar due to the body being used to taking in lots of it before and may cause low blood sugar. Workouts might feel terrible as the body adapts and utilizes different sources of energy than it is used to. One’s sex drive could increase because of a boost in self-confidence, stamina and testosterone levels. Bowel movements may become easier, as well, due to the increase in vegetable intake. Lastly, a paleo diet could cause one’s natural body odor to smell fresher due to more meat, fats and eggs being taken into the body’s diet.
If the paleo diet sounds like a challenge, but you want to have a healthier lifestyle similar to the paleo diet, try eating three meals a day and include some protein, foods of color, some grains – such as cereal, whole grain, bread, rice or pasta – and a little fat – such as nuts, butter, salad dressing, oil or a little mayonnaise – in each meal and snack. Be selective with junk foods and other less healthy foods.