You have probably heard paleo described as ‘caveman eating’ This is a fair way of summing it up, the key is cut out everything modern (think processed food) but also those things which are fairly recent in the scale of things like grains and dairy. But why has this diet become popular again in the last few years? For centuries, we almost forgot Paleo. In fact, it is down to the work and research of one man that Paleo has come back into the public eye and we can once again take advantage of the original healthy eating method.
Although there are some excellent sources of information on the net, the guy who most of us associate with everything Paleo is Loren Cordain. Actually, to give him his proper title, it should be Dr. Loren Cordain. Cordain is a nutrition expert and scientist who has written several books on food, diet and how to live healthily. He is the current professor emeritus in nutrition at the University of Colorado.
Although not the only person who said that ‘caveman’ eating patterns made sense, Cordain was the first real heavyweight figure to lay out the advantages to a Paleo lifestyle. He says that a lot of this is down to his parents. Like many of us, his mum encouraged him to eat his vegetables but his dad also showed him the value of traditional hunter-gatherer cultures. Cordain took this further than most and became more and more interested in what would become modern Paleo during his graduate studies at Nevado-Reno and Utah universities.
What is interesting and perhaps surprising is that he was really going against the flow in terms of what people accepted as being healthy in the 60s/70s/80s. It was generally accepted that ‘fat made you fat’, ‘high protein was dangerous’ and athletes eat high carb starchy diets’. In fact, these dietary hangovers are still around today despite the efforts of many to present a more balanced picture of what is good for you.
As a competitive collegiate athlete, Loren looked at what worked in terms of health and performance. His research was surprising for the time but is what most of us accept as being common sense today. Base your diet around animal protein, healthy fats, and fruit and vegetables. Avoid processed food and especially carbs from stuff like wheat flour. The results for both himself and others quickly became clear.
Since those days, Dr. Cordain has written a few books that are staples of any paleo library. The text that really shook up the diet world was “The Paleo Diet”. He has since updated and revised this first version in 2010, but honestly, the original version provides a great overview of the principles of Paleo. If you are looking for more information or want to apply paleo principles to sports performance, “The Paleo Diet for Athletes” is also excellent. His most recent work is “The Paleo Answer” which represents his most recent research and findings on all things paleo and is a great place to start if you have read nothing on Paleo before.
Whilst Cordain is the person who put Paleo firmly back front and centre of nutrition and diet, happily many other smart authors and writers have taken up the torch. There are now excellent resources providing everything from recipe ideas to the latest scientific research. Thanks to all these people, Paleo has become easy to follow lifestyle and something that will offer dramatic health benefits for everyone.