Before rushing off to explore the ins and outs that switching to Paleo foods may hold in store for us, let us consider briefly how this healthy eating style has made such a dramatic return to modern humankind. American scientist, Loren Cordain is the man credited with reviving what constituted the hunter-gatherer diet that our earliest ancestors followed naturally. We call it the Paleo diet, brought to us by Mother Nature herself.
Cordain believes that the Paleo lifestyle diet should contribute around 60% of food energy from meat, fish, and chicken, with the balance of 40% derived from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. In essence, it is a low-carb diet high in protein, similar to other modern forager diets. Judging by remains unearthed, Palaeolithic humans benefitted from foods they either hunted down or found growing naturally the way things were always supposed to be.
Remember when you were a kid, and your parents returned from the farmer’s market with a trolley-load of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil and the freshest meats. You just loved the freshly selected aromas and the crunchy tastes. Somewhere along the line, the food industry started extending use-by dates by injecting natural foods with chemicals, and genetically modifying them.
The Paleo diet invites you to return to a primal blueprint before chemists started interfering, and discover a ‘new you’ as you grow stronger, and can exercise more. By also stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol, we become less stressed and sleep the night through too. This is the vision you are embarking on towards a better future, so keep your mind fixed on what you are going to achieve – as opposed to the inconvenience of changing familiar habits. Do you know where the word ‘Paleo’ comes from? Let’s find out.
Forty thousand years ago, our Stone Age ancestors made a step change from a primitive Neanderthal existence to a more organized hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Scientists call this the Palaeolithic era and that’s where the name ‘Paleo’ comes from. They feasted on nuts, wild animals, fish and fruits they found growing in abundance. They were smaller than we are now, but were, we believe, exceptionally agile, strong, and nimble.
Some twenty thousand years ago, our ancestors moved from overnighting in caves to permanent community villages. By pooling resources, they could farm with livestock, and grow crops of which wheat and grains were the most productive. Without realising this was happening, humankind moved into a less healthy eating era. Humans had to adapt to dairy products and grains with gluten. This was about the time that cardiac problems, cancers, and obesity appeared. The Paleo diet invites us to return to healthier foods designed for our bodies.
In the mid-1970’s concerns developed, as obesity, some forms of cancer, and heart disease took hold. After visionary gastroenterologist Walter Voegtilin proposed returning to Paleo diet food, Loren Cordain popularised the idea in his 2002 best-selling book The Paleo Diet.
Cordain recommended 55% of daily calories from seafood and lean meat in equal quantities, accompanied by 15% of daily calories from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds respectively. There were to be no dairy products, hardly any grain, and no added salt and sugar.
A contemporary paleo diet consists of a balanced spread of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fish oil and grass-fed beef. There are many varieties on this theme as we discuss in the paragraphs following. Remember to consult your medical practitioner before changing your lifestyle, diet, or medication.
Scientists continuously report the benefits of the Paleo diet food list as proven in research. The US National Library of Medicine confirms it “helps older woman cut cholesterol and disease risks in postmenopausal women.” They also lose weight and lower their future risk of diabetes and heart disease.
In announcing this finding, lead study author Caroline Blomquist (a doctoral student at Umea University in Sweden) confirmed that “obesity-related disorders have reached pandemic proportions with a significant economic burden on a global scale … and it is of vital interest to find effective methods to improve metabolic balance.”
The library’s research database Pubmed.Gov reinforced this by confirming reports that a grain-free Paleo diet plan “would induce weight loss and improve plasma total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and TG concentrations in nondiabetic adults with hyperlipidaemia, and this to a greater extent than a grain-based heart-healthy diet recommended by the American Heart Association.”
Since obesity makes our bodies work harder and strains our hearts, it follows that weight loss is critical if we are to counter heart disease. The US National Library of Medicine holds records of research revealing specific benefits. In one study, a group of subjects lost an average 6.5 kilograms over 6 months eating Paleo, while the low-fat control group shed a mere 2.6. By 12 months, the Paleo group was down 8.7kg on average, compared to the low-fat dieters who only managed to lose 4.4. This ground-breaking research proved what Paleo believers had been saying for years.
Lifestyle changes such as cutting across to Paleo diet food often works best as step-changes, and not gradually piecemeal. Rachel Moss, writing in Huff Post Lifestyle believes the easiest way, to begin is with a thirty-day crash diet sticking to Paleo diet plan basics. Once our bodies have adjusted, we can start experimenting with some of the specialist niches we mention later. This is especially helpful if we visited this page because we want to lose weight, manage our type diabetes better, lessen cardiovascular risk, or just start enjoying food again that is gluten free.
You are embarking on an exciting journey towards a healthier, happier you. One of the most exciting aspects will be discovering that Paleo foods are tasty and nutritious. We hope you found this pillar of knowledge helpful. Please email us if you have thoughts we might like to add to our list of the solutions Paleo brings to modern living.