The Paleo Diet

A popular diet suggests that we return to the eating habits of our distant ancestors.  If a caveman could hunt it or gather it, we can eat it.  If a caveman never ate it, neither should we.  By returning to our hunter-gatherer beginnings, the theory says, we can better match the capabilities and preferences of our metabolism and achieve optimal health.  After all, who ever heard of an obese caveman?

The human body is the result of many thousands of years of evolution.  Our digestive system "grew up" on meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables and seeds.  Only in the most recent centuries have our bodies had to cope with processed foods.  This is the reasoning that led to the Paleo or Caveman diet.  Eat like a caveman and enjoy the good health of the caveman.  That means avoiding grains, legumes (like peanuts or beans), potatoes, salt, sugar, alcohol and dairy.  Followers are allowed to cook their food, so at least they are modeling the caveman after the discovery of fire.

Almost three quarters of our normal diet consists of processed foods.  This mismatch with our evolutionary digestive capacity leads to obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, say Paleo proponents.  Critics say that the diet is inadequate in certain key nutrients, like calcium, and that the caveman's life expectancy was so short that most modern health issues never had a chance to gain a toehold.  Further, critics contend that the caveman actually did collect and "process" grains for food, creating cereals and unleavened breads.  They also point out that the caveman probably got more than half of their calories from plants while the Paleo diet has protein contributing up to 70% of your daily calories.

The Paleo diet focuses on meat and seafood (ideally raised in a natural environment), along with eggs, fruits, vegetables and seeds.  A typical day's menu might be:

Breakfast:  Two eggs (any style but limit the oil), grapefruit or orange, coffee (cream optional)

Lunch: Colds cuts with slice of cheese, half cup of mixed nuts, water or lemonade

Afternoon snack:  Apple, half cup of mixed nuts

Dinner:  Chicken or tuna, baked potato, mixed vegetables, fruit salad, coffee (cream optional)

As you can see, this is not a difficult diet to shop for.  There can be a lot of variation and tailoring to your specific tastes.  Most advocates suggest taking a multivitamin, too, to supplement the nutrients that you are getting as a caveman.  Could this work for you?  How badly would you miss that toast in the morning or that mug of beer on Saturday night?  This might just be the right way for you to get in tune with your ancestors.

Have you tried the Paleo diet?  Is it yum or ugh?  Click on the Comment button and let us know.

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