What is the Paleo Diet?
A Paleo diet, also known as the paleolithic diet or simply the “caveman diet”, is all about returning to the sort of foods that were available to our very early ancestors. By following a paleo diet, you’ll be eating more natural foods in order to gain better health and an improved physique. For more than 2 million years, the human body survived on the foods that were found commonly in nature: wild fruits, vegetables, fish, game meat, eggs, and nuts. The early human race was able to thrive on a diet that was rich in animal fats and protein and low in carbohydrates. However, after the agricultural revolution, we were introduced to multitude of foods that had been previously unavailable to humans.
This diet is called the paleo diet because it only includes the types of foods that were available to humans during the majority of our evolution throughout the paleolithic era, dating back around 2.5 million years ago! The general idea behind this diet is that because our genes and physiology evolved through the process of natural selection during this time period, then our bodies will receive the most nourishment via the food groups that we evolved around. A paleo diet encompasses the whole spectrum of animal foods (fish, beef, shellfish, poultry, lamb, bison, pork, etc.) including animal fat and organs. Then there will also be plenty of eggs and vegetables with limited amounts of fruits and nuts.
About 10,000 years ago, human beings experienced an agricultural revolution. Since then, we have been able to eat large quantities of foods that weren’t previously available in nature. According to a paleo diet, these types of foods should be avoided, since they could be considered completely alien to the genes and metabolisms that human beings had developed over thousands of years of evolution during the paleolithic era. These foods have since been seen as a possible cause for a full range of metabolic disorders and other medical complications including type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, and a number of other conditions which were previously unknown to our paleolithic ancestors.
Many of the foods that are recommended by the government and nutritionists are high up on the list of items to avoid while following the paleo diet. According to the paleo diet philosophy, things like saturated fat, cholesterol, and red meat all have their appropriate place in an effective human diet. The types of foods that a human being should avoid include excess sugar, grain products, industrial seed oils, legumes, and dairy products (though there are some paleo friendly exceptions). Many of these items can be found as part of the current United States food pyramid.
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For those who choose to follow the paleo diet and lifestyle, it is about more than just imitating the dietary habits of our early ancestors. Many of the pillars of the paleo diet have been based on scientific results and evidence. The actions of our paleolithic ancestors can provide an effective framework for studying the real effects that foods can have on our bodies. As the popularity of this lifestyle continues to grow, it seems that more and more people are finding added benefits from the paleo diet.