Certainly, by now everyone has heard of the Paleo diet. Unless you yourself have been living in a cave for the past few years, the chances are good that you know someone who follows this so-called “caveman diet”, and many people find it very rewarding. Paleo devotees say that their diet brings them many health benefits, including weight loss, reduction of cellular inflammation, and more. So is a Paleo diet right for you? Read on to learn more.
- What, exactly, is a Paleo diet? Touted as a “primal” diet, the Paleo diet is actually an updated approximation of the diet of the Paleolithic era, before agriculture was developed. It’s updated because the much of the food we have available to us did not exist during the Paleolithic era, and approximated because the reality is that people in different places ate different things. The basic idea is to eat like a hunter-gatherer, eating vegetables, fruit, seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
- What’s the benefit of eating like that? This kind of diet, which eschews grains and processed foods, is naturally gluten free and low in high-glycemic carbs and added sugars. The Paleo diet is also rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fat, low-glycemic carbohydrates, and soluble fiber. Consuming these nutrients, while avoiding processed foods, is likely to make a person feel healthier. Remember, Paleolithic people got plenty of exercise and fresh air, too, which is an important part of any healthy lifestyle.
- Are there any drawbacks? Well, yes. First, if you were truly able to go back to the diet of your Paleolithic ancestors, you might reconsider when you realized their lifespan was only about 20 years. Obviously, that was not entirely due to their diet, but our modern diet does contain some nutrients, like vitamin D and calcium, that are in short supply in the Paleo diet. In addition, Paleolithic meat animals were much leaner than the meat we eat today, which means that those who try to follow the Paleo diet may be unintentionally ingesting too much unhealthy fat. The assertion made by some proponents of the Paleo diet, that our bodies are not designed to process foods developed beyond the Paleolithic era is inaccurate, as our digestive systems have certainly evolved.
- What’s the best way to design a diet plan? Even though it’s not true to say that our digestive systems haven’t gotten past the Paleolithic era, there are many things that Paleo enthusiasts have gotten right. The modern diet, full of processed foods and sugar, is not the healthiest way to eat. Focusing on lean proteins, fresh produce, nuts, and seeds is not a bad idea, though there are beneficial nutrients to be gained from whole grains, dairy products, and legumes as well. Seeking balance in your diet is important, as is getting plenty of exercise. If you’re confused about how to make the right dietary choices, consult a nutritionist for advice.
At our clinic, we strive to help our patients lead balanced lives, striving for healthy consistency rather than jumping onto each new diet plan that comes along. Our nutritionists are happy to help you determine the right kind of diet for your particular body type, lifestyle, and health factors, in order to set you on your own path to optimal wellness. To learn more about how we can help you live a healthier life, visit our website for call today for a free consultation.