The Paleo Diet (short for Paleolithic Diet) basically consists of food that the caveman would have eaten in Paleolithic times. Whole foods like meats, fish, fruit vegetables and nuts are included on the list. Processed foods that you typically find in boxes are not.
What is the Paleo Diet & the Idea Behind It
The concept behind eating a paleo diet states that we fuel our bodies with more nutritious food. These foods do not contain the unhealthy additives that may contribute to common ailments. For example, diabetes, digestion problems, allergies, skin problems and more.
There are lots of reasons. First of all, getting rid of processed food can help with weight loss. Some people who experience regular bloating or gas also see those issues disappear when eliminating certain foods. People report being able to sleep better and manage stress. Solving these two items can also aid with weight management. As you can see, many factors are inter-related, and solving one problem usually leads to solving several others simultaneously.
The healthy fats in a paleo diet help decrease inflammation in the body. This can lead to clearer skin, less aches and pains, better focus, less allergies, etc.. In fact, some health issues that people assume are part of the regular aging process may actually be caused by inflammation in the body caused by the foods being eaten.
In The Paleo Diet Revised, Loren Cordain PhD talks about a study done at the University of Illinois where a group of women were put on a calorie-restricted diet for 10 weeks. Half of them followed a diet according to USDA guidelines and the other half a diet higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. Both groups lost approximately the same amount in pounds. However, the higher protein diet group lost more fat and less muscle.
Additionally, the same people had a faster metabolic rate and lowered triglyceride levels among other benefits. From this research, it appears that the paleo diet has multiple long-term benefits that make it worth looking into.
What happens when people switch to a paleo lifestyle and eliminate many of the processed food items from their diets? They often notice several health improvements that they didn’t expect. For example, a person might eliminate grains, sugar and dairy from their diet to see if they can lose weight. In addition, they find that in the process that their skin clear up as well.
How Do You Start?
When switching to a paleo way of eating, some people will make gradual changes until eventually they are eating 100% paleo. Other people avoid most processed foods. However, they might enjoy cheese, oats or brown rice and choose to eat those items in limited amounts. The decision depends on the individual.
Many people discover that they feel better or have more energy when they avoid processed foods. For this reason, they will stick to their new way of eating.
Some Other Factors to Consider… or Not
Of course, cavemen probably did not eat meat with added hormones, chickens fed with corn or strawberries sprayed with pesticides. Thus, these items are not really included on a strict paleo diet plan.
However, we all know that cost can be a factor when buying food, and sometimes organic options are not available. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are trying to make the switch. Basically, eating natural, wholesome, unprocessed foods some or most of the time is better than not at all.
Alternatively, you could grow your own fruits and vegetables. Plus, you could raise chickens and livestock and create your own organic farm and never have to shop at the grocery store again…