You may have heard the Paleo diet described as “eat like a caveman”. Other names for it include: The Stone Age diet, or the Ancient diet. No matter what name you know it as, the overall concept of the Paleo diet is the same.
The Paleo diet is an attempt to replicate the diet that humans who were alive during the Paleolithic age would have eaten. It is always a good idea to consult a doctor before choosing to start a new diet.
Where did the Paleo diet come from?
The Paleo diet has been around for longer than you might think. It is attributed to a gastroenterologist named Walter Voegtlin who came up with this diet in the 1970’s. He believed that eating the way our Paleolithic ancestors did would make modern humans healthier.
Later, the Paleo diet became popular as a result of a book called “The Paleolithic Perscription”. It was written by Dr. S Boyd Eaton who was a professor of anthropology at Emory University. The book was published in 1988. He believed that the paleolithic diet was what the human body was built to eat.
How does the Paleo diet work?
The main concept of the Paleo diet can be explained as: “If a caveman didn’t eat it, modern man shouldn’t either”. People who choose the Paleo diet are instructed to avoid all processed foods, all foods that have been harvested by the use of ranching or agriculture (grains, cane sugar, legumes, peas, potatoes, dairy products). All fruits and vegetables must be organic. Salt must be limited (or not used at all). Coffee and alcohol are excluded.
In general, people who choose the Paleo diet eat a high-protein diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. This diet could be considered a “low-carb” diet.
Paleo diet controversies
One problem with the Paleo diet is the idea that it enables modern human to “eat like a caveman”. In reality, our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t have a specific “diet”. They were hunter-gatherers, and ate whatever and whenever they could. In addition, the foods that they ate were ones that were locally available. What is easy to find in one part of the world may have been nonexistent in another part.
The Association of UK Dietitians considers the Paleo diet to be a fad diet. They note that, unless you have a specific medical reason for doing so, there is no need to cut entire food groups out of your diet. Cutting out dairy can result in a lack of calcium, and may harm bone health.
In addition, people who choose the Paleo diet may be missing out the fiber, vitamins, and minerals that other people would typically get from eating grains and dairy. This is something that many Paleo diet websites fail to mention. It should also be noted that the produce that you can buy today is vastly different than the fruits and vegetables that a “caveman” would find, due to years of modifications from farming. The meat you eat today is fattier than what a “caveman” would have had access to.
Image by dollen on Flickr.
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