The Paleo Diet (also known as caveman diet) is based on the eating practices of men who lived in the ancient times when agricultural methods are not yet known to mankind. This diet was introduced by a gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin who suggests that having a diet similar to what human ate during the Paleolithic era would improve one’s health.
To date, this diet has been recognized and gained popularity worldwide because many people are trying to find a solution to their health conditions.
The main focus of the Paleo diet is to consume foods closest to its natural state as possible. Since the end of the Paleolithic period, many kinds of food that men barely or never consumed at all have been slowly introduced.
With the advent of agriculture, men learned the skills in farming and rearing which led to the production milk, dairies, beans, and grains. Then centuries later food manufacturing companies were built and gave way to the large scale production of processed meat, refined cereals, refined sugars and refined oils, because the demands increases with time.
And now we are living in the world wherein the natural state of food is being altered to prolong shelf life or to make it more convenient for the consumer.
The Paleo diet proponents believed that the contemporary diet with all these refined foods readily available in the market is the reason why millions of people are now suffering from many health conditions or also known as the diseases of civilization such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer.
The Paleo Diet claim the following health benefits:
Reduce risk of chronic degenerative diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer
Aids in weight loss (if you are overweight or obese)
Better athletic performance
Better digestion by improving the gut flora (less bloating)
Better absorption of nutrients
Improve skin health
Improve mood and mental clarity
Reduce body pain
The Paleo diet promotes consumption of whole food, the use of refined and processed ingredients are not allowed on this diet. Many proponents of the Paleo diet consider high percentage of protein to be one of the main elements of the diet.
This diet is widely used for weight loss because it is low in caloric density. There is significant evidence that people having high caloric density diets tend to eat a lot and have greater risk of being obese.
Low Carbohydrate and Low GIycemic Index: 35-45% of your daily calorie budget should come from carbohydrates in the form of non-starchy vegetables and fruits. Most starchy vegetables are to be avoided because they are high in glycemic index.
Fruits and non-starchy vegetables are low in calories, low in GI, nutrient dense, and contain higher amount of fiber which is beneficial if you are trying to lose weight. Refined sugars are totally eliminated in the Paleo diet because it can lead to insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes.
High Protein Intake: the average protein intake of the traditional hunter-gatherers is 19-35% of total calories. Since protein is the most satiating macro-nutrient, having a diet that is high in protein will keep you feeling full for longer hours.
Moderate to High Fat Intake: this diet promotes the consumption of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats rich in Omega-3’s. Grass-fed beef are rich in Omega-3’s as well as cold-water fish, and walnuts. Since our body cannot produce them, it is essential that we get them from the food that we eat.
Potassium and Sodium Intake: fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally rich in potassium and contain less sodium. Potassium is essential for the heart, kidneys, and other organs to function well. Insufficient potassium is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke – the similar health concerns linked to a diet high in sodium.
The vitamin and mineral content of this diet is very high as compared with a standard diet because it consists of vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, and seafood.
The green leafy vegetables provide the body with good amounts of calcium that are easily absorbed by the body and beneficial for bone health; fish and seafood are excellent sources of Omega-3’s as well as iodine, zinc, copper and selenium, they are necessary for proper brain function and immunity; the B-vitamins from meat and organ meat helps boost energy and improves mood and memory.
Does Paleo Diet have Side Effects?
People may experience some short-term side effects when shifting from the usual high-carb, low-fat diet to Paleo diet which is lower carb and higher fat diet. The body needs time to adjust and these side effects will be just a part of the transition phase. The side effects are not life threatening but sometimes can be bothersome.
Here are some common side effects when getting started on Paleo Diet:
4. Body aches
6. Lack of concentration
7. Constipation or diarrhea