With the growing popularity of Paleolithic or Paleo diet among weight watchers and health conscious people, people are increasingly asking ‘what is the Paleo diet?’ Of course, the idea of switching from your routine dietary patterns to a completely different nutrition plan can seem like a daunting task, especially if you do not have sufficient background information about where it comes from and what it entails. For this reason, it is imperative to create an understanding what the Paleolithic diet, also called caveman or hunter-gatherer diet, is all about and how it came to be adopted as a recommended system of managing a healthy weight.
What is the Paleo diet?
Although it may sound like a new concept the idea of Paleo diet dates back to the time of Neanderthals and seeks to gain influence from their eating preferences. The diet system is derived from the philosophy that for a vast majority of years that saw human beings evolving into their present form, there was no reliance on factory manufactured foods in their diets. This is in complete contrast to the modern-day dependence on food items that are made to go through a chain of artificial processes before being made available for sales.
How the concept developed
The development of the Paleo diet as an equally applicable concept in today’s world is primarily accredited to renowned author Walter Voegtlin. In his book, published in 1975, Voegtlin states that adhering to the primal diet can prevent the occurrence of a number of diseases that are commonly prevalent among a large portion of the population today. Based on his support towards the Paleo diet, Voegtlin threw his weight behind the consumption of meals that comprised a higher ratio of proteins as compared to carbohydrates. By making this change, he suggested, people could save themselves from different problems related to indigestion such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s syndrome and colitis.
As this was a novel concept for most people at the time, the question ‘what is the Paleo diet?’ was being asked increasingly. Inspired by Voegtlin’s assertions, a number of subsequent nutrition and health experts, as well as anthropologists, presented their own theories in support of the caveman diet. A considerable number of Paleolithic diet proponents quote Weston Price’s statements in his book called ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’, in which he builds the argument of how the industrially refined foods are affecting people’s dental hygiene as well as causing a number of other ailments such as heart issues, cancers, and asthma.
What is the Paleo diet purpose and benefits?
Supporters of the hunter-gatherer diet maintain that the human body is naturally adaptable to the food items available to it from organic sources alone. Any additives, chemical treatments or artificial processes to enhance these food sources are not only comparatively recent but are also not suitable for the human body to show complete acceptance towards. As a result of the body’s failure to adapt to these additional components, its cells can undergo mutation in order to adjust the body to this new type of diet. For this reason, experts of the Paleo diet suggest adherence to foods that were accessed by the cavemen and avoiding the present day reliance on mass-level agriculture as well as grains.
Some of the benefits that proponents of Paleolithic diet have enlisted are:
- It helps in preventing diseases and ailments such as coronary dysfunctions, hypertension, and arthritis.
- It is exceptionally helpful in losing weight and maintaining vitality.
- It can help people develop a healthier physique and immune system, as has also been documented about the cavemen.
- It reduces the risk of mental disorders.
What is the Paleo diet menu?
The Paleolithic diet menu comprises a list of permissible food items that fit the philosophy and food habits of the ancient man. These can be divided into different food groups:
- Meats: The meats should be acquired from free-range animals only and not those that were commercially raised. This food group includes leans meats as well as organs such as kidneys and liver.
- Fish: The preferred type of fish in the Paleo diet program is one that is caught in the wild. This criterion stands true for other types of seafood as well.
- Fruits: Recommended fruits include different types of berries, citrus fruits, and avocado. High sugar fruits like pineapples, apples, and mangoes should be avoided.
- Vegetables: The diet supports the consumption of vegetables in their most natural form and recommends carrots, leafy greens, salads, kale, cucumbers, and turnips to name a few. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and yams are not preferred.
- Nuts: The caveman diet considers nuts as an important food group, advocating nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, and Brazilian nuts to name a few. Peanuts should be avoided since they are legumes.
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