While for some people the term ‘Paleo diet’ may be totally unknown, this new dietary movement that proposes to restore the eating habits of those men and women that inhabited the planet during the Paleolithic, is getting today more and more followers. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and another social networks are full of pages promoting this ancestral lifestyle which, according to its supporters, is “the healthiest” way to eat thanks to the several benefits that it brings to our health. Clearly, this powerful online community is one of its main advantages, as the great support that the followers give to each other is not easy to find in many other diets.
Also known as the “caveman diet”, “primitive”, “the Stone Age diet” or “hunter-gatherers diet”, the Paleolithic diet is, in the words of its creator, the american scientist Loren Cordain, the “optimal” diet, as we are “genetically prepared” for it. “The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat”, says Robb Wolf, author of ‘The Paleo Solution’ and one of the world’s leading experts on Paleolithic nutrition. “It is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you to stay lean, strong and energetic!”, adds Wolf.
As Cordain exposes in his book ‘The Paleo Diet’, “by following these nutritional guidelines, we put our diet more in line with the evolutionary pressures that shaped our current genetics, which in turn positively influences health and well being”.
A positive influence that translates into the following health benefits:
- stable blood sugar levels
- burn off stored fat and promote weightloss
- reduced allergies
- balanced energy levels during the day
- anti-inflammatory function
- more effective workouts
- improve sleep patterns
Food you should eat and food you must avoid
Basically, the Paleo diet considers essential to eliminate all the ‘modern’ food, ie, all those that have been treated or modified and gives priority to those nutrients that have been with humans for over 76,000 generations.
- Refined sugars (white sugar, industrial bakery and confectionery products,…)
- Processed Oil
- Grains and cereals
- Legumes and starches
- Any industrially processed food
- Lean meats from free fed animals
- Fish and seafood, not fried
- All fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Crude vegetable oils: olive oil, coconut oil,…
Pros and cons
Pro: Proponents of this diet based on the Paleolithic pattern ensure that can help reducing the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, among others.
And, certainly, we are agree thanks to its commitment to a way of eating closer to nature: promotes consumption of healthy fats from foods like seeds, nuts and oily fish, avoids excess of saturated fat as well as salt, sugar and bakery products, and removes all kind of soft and alcoholic drinks, which results in a reduction of the glycemic load in blood.
Con: Can be difficult to find on the market meat from animals that have been fed on grass, no-farms fresh fish, fruits and vegetables without chemical treatments or pesticides… And if we find them, the cost of these products is usually quite high.
Pro: The Paleo diet encourages physical exercise as a basic part of this lifestyle because, although it’s called ‘diet’, the concept doesn’t refer to a strict meal plan but rather a new way of eating that seeks to improve our health in every way.
Con: Although eliminating milk, dairy, legumes and cereals isn’t strict, as its occasional use is allowed, we must consider that if there is no impediment (lactose intolerance, celiac disease,…), all they are complete food we don’t have to do without.
Both milk and dairy can help prevent osteoporosis, as they are a good source of calcium, vitamin A, B12 and D, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium. Always opt for low-fat versions, since they are also high in protein and low in cholesterol. Meanwhile, most legumes are an important source of dietary fiber, vegetable protein, iron and potassium, which decreases the risk of certain heart diseases. Also, the consumption of whole grains positively influences the regulation of blood pressure and achieve a healthy weight.
Like everything in life, there are no magic formulas to achieve an ideal weight or improve our health, but there are small patterns that can make easier the way. About the Paleo diet, we can stay with the idea of advocating increasingly natural and organic food, which translates into a consumption of food from our immediate environment in order to be sure that they have suffered the least manipulation as possible until getting to our table. Gradually eliminate from your diet all foods whose labeling you can read more than three ingredients and you will gain vitality. The root of good health is certainly in our hands, in being able to choose what we give to our body and mind to achieve the optimum nutrition. My advice is always the same: balance and passion for everything you do. And, of course, include in your life all those healthy tips that can help you to be comfortable with yourself and, therefore, to be happy.
@justpaleofood in Instagram
‘The Paleo Diet’, Loren Cordain.
‘The Paleo Solution’, Robb Wolf.
‘Paleo Diet for Athletes’, Loren Cordain and Joe Friel.