There is a belief, that is held by researchers, that human hunter-gatherers used to eat diets that consisted of different types of whole foods a long time ago. The Paleo diet is intended to resemble what human hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago.
It is the researcher’s view that because hunter-gatherers followed a whole food-based diet and lead physically active lives, they had considerably lower rates of lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
The Paleo diet therefore is supposed to comprise primarily of foods that can be gathered and hunted, much like what people ate during the Paleolithic period. Food that require processing such as bread, pasta, rice, dairy products are not considered as part of the Paleo diet because they require one or more types of processing.
What struck me about this diet is the claim from several studies that it can lead to substantial loss of weight and noticeable improvements in health. This is something that we all ought to be encouraged by.
Researchers classify the food used on today’s Paleo diets as agrarian, meaning that they relate to cultivated land or the cultivation of land. This is due to them having advanced much later than the hunter-gatherer foods.
Advocates of the Paleo diet believe that our bodies were never designed to eat grains, legumes and dairy products. They also believe that food should be unprocessed.
Based on the aforementioned, Paleo foods should essentially be prepared from their natural state. This implies that crops or plants should be consumed in their natural state after being cooked, where necessary. In the case of meat, it should be cooked as it comes from animals without having been processes or even cured.
Practitioners of the Paleo philosophy believe that including non-Paleo food into their diet is creates increased chances of exposure to many diseases that could otherwise be avoided
The challenge posed by our current situation is that it is difficult, if not outright impossible, to match what was eaten during pre-historic times. This is due to the fact that our food sources are not out there where they can be gathered. Instead, we get food from shops and outlets that contain an assortment different types of processed food.
The Paleo diet is based on an attitude and it is not difficult to deliberate about Paleo. Considering the fact that when we eat meat from an animal that was raised eating its natural food, we are eating Paleo. The same thinking applies to fruits, vegetables or other consumable plants that could have been grown without non-natural interference. They too would be considered to be Paleo.
However if there was a secondary process such as curing involved, it’s probably not. In the average supermarket most Paleo foods will be in the meat and fruit and vegetable sections. You won’t find much to suit in the aisles.
On the other hand, proponents of Paleo are of the view that where there is a secondary process such as curing that is applied, the food could possibly not be considered to be Paleo. In a typical supermarket, the majority of Paleo foods can be in the meat, fruit and vegetable departments. They suggest that Paleo can hardly be found in the aisles.
The following is a set of foods that can be eaten when considering a Paleo diet.
Meat and Fats
When consumed together with vegetables, nuts and fruits, meat is considered to be the foundation of the Paleo diet. Red meat, including meat from beef, mutton, goat as well as from game is considered to be Paleo. Uncured pork is welcomed but bacon and ham are not taken by strict Paleo followers because of the curing process they have been subjected to. White meat from all types of poultry, fish, shellfish and crustaceans are all acknowledged as Paleo foods.
While the levels and manners in which Paleo is practiced vary amongst practitioners, those who are strict observers prefer meat from grass-fed animals instead of animals that are fed from a feedlot.
Paleo diets are sometimes made flexible through addition of flaxseed, olive oil and similar additions.
Fruits and Vegetables
You can eat almost all types of vegetables and fruits. Some Paleo dieters prefer to eat raw fruits and vegetables. Avoid eating those that are from the ‘nightshade’ group such as eggplants and tomatoes. Corn is considered a farmed grain and not included. Many also exclude potatoes.
Paleo diets allow for consumption of approximately all kinds of fruits and vegetables. A percentage of Paleo dieters are known to prefer to consume raw fruits and vegetables. They usually do not eat corn because they claim that it is a grain that is farmed. More research should be done about their attitude towards other grains that are grown on farms. They avoid vegetables from the nightshade group. Nightshade vegetables are the edible parts of flowering plants that belong to the Solanaceae family. These include eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tomatillos and tomatoes.
Paleo dieters prefer water as the key drink for hydration and as the first fluid that should be consumed. They completely avoid milk products as well as soft drinks. They prefer filtered water over tap water because the latter might contain chlorine and fluoride.
Paleo dieters also drink fresh juices made from fruit and vegetable without adding any artificial sweeteners or preservatives. They also add a bit of orange, lemon or lime juice to water to add variety. Herbal teas such as chamomile, ginger and peppermint are acceptable.
Health and Fitness
When following a Paleo diet, one must not forget to include regular exercise into one’s daily routines. This comes from the view that the Paleo diet is a lifestyle diet and our ancestors definitely had to expend energy in the course of their hunting and gathering.
Like any other type of rigorous diet plan, the Paleo diet has some limitations. If one has any pre-conditions or concerns, it would be wise to consult with one’s health care provider or dietitian before starting your a Paleo diet plan.