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Back to basics - the Paleo Diet

Updated on September 23, 2013

Imagine a time of getting down to basics, like back in the days of our caveman ancestors. Think of a time when the only things that nourished man were roots and vegetables that grew on the Earth’s surface with the occasional chicken, sheep or livestock that roamed the land.

If you can conjure up an image in your mind - we are not advocating heading back into the times of Jurassic Park, but rather a throwback to the eating habits of our ancestors. We’re talking Paleo diet and lifestyle!

So exactly what’s the buzz around the Paleo lifestyle and diet?

Let’s find out!

A Paleolithic or Paleo lifestyle refers to us going ‘back to basics’ similar to the dietary and lifestyle choices that were made by prehistoric people in the Paleolithic era. Simply put, it is heading back to a state of being diet wise where all that a person eats is based on primal existence principles. In simple words the Paleo diet implies that you eat nothing processed whatsoever.

That means no cookies, chips, breads, pasta and basically anything that has to go through the mill to change its natural state of being in order to land on your plate.

This may sound like a diet or lifestyle of deprivation, or is it?

So just what will you be eating?

These are just some of the food types that you would encounter on the Paleo diet. There are some schools of thought that specify that people shouldn’t be as rigid and austere with their caveman/ paleo diet and lifestyle, but that they should use the lifestyle as a blue print more than a hard and fast method to stick by. Especially when it comes to introducing certain necessary fats like olive oil and avocado oil for example.

The basis in reasoning for moving toward a Paleo diet and the lifestyle is that there is a school of thought that our bodies and psychologies have not evolved to a point where we can accept the highly modified and processed foods that we have readily available nowadays. According to the said line of thought, our teeth, limbs and muscles have a memory from prehistoric times which is accustomed to eating food in its most natural state and that we should cater to that.

Why choose the Paleo diet?

1. It's more than just a diet

It is not just a food fad; it’s also a lifestyle choice that’s aimed at a greater quality of living. Strictly speaking there is a greater Paleo lifestyle at play that advocates a move toward the lifestyle choices of prehistoric man.

Some of these would be:

  • Relying more on natural movements, like running, jumping, climbing, stretching and swimming.
  • Sleeping for 8 hours or more per day
  • Reducing overall stress levels- Which means resolving conflict and exposure to technology.
  • Socializing with small groups of people instead of being introverted.

2, Move away from processed foods

Let’s face it many of the processed foods that we eat are packed full of sugar, salt, preservatives, artificial colorants and corn syrup. All of which are energy vampires in the blood sugar and food value stakes. By taking up a Paleo diet and lifestyle, you immediately eliminate many of these offenders and allow the opportunity for more healthful and wholesome foods.

You get to avoid these bad boys which are responsible for a lot of negative health ailments.
You get to avoid these bad boys which are responsible for a lot of negative health ailments.

The benefits of the Paleo diet and lifestyle

1. Higher protein levels in your diet

The Paleo diet consists of a large amount of quality protein which when eaten and metabolized by the body is responsible in part for growing decent muscle. We all know that as we develop more muscle, we develop a higher metabolic rate and we are able to burn more fat, sugar and glucose stores and have more energy.

2. Higher amounts of quality fresh foods

When you embark on the Paleo diet, you automatically reduce the amount of high fat, high carb, sugary and salty food in your diet. The replacements should then be high quality fruit and vegetables which provide the perfect opportunity for us as people to imbibe food that is vitamin and mineral rich.

3. Increased energy levels

Think of your body as a car and the fact that it needs fuel to drive it.

Food is fuel! At the end of the day, what we put into bodies provides us with energy and life force. Sure we can get energy and fuel from a number of food items including processed foods; however we have to ask… What is the quality of the energy that you get?

The Paleo diet requires that you change the very elemental basics of what is in your diet such that you are getting higher quality fuel into your body.

Some of the energy rich foods that you can expect to find in the Paleo diet are the following:

Avocados - Avocados provide a necessary unsaturated fat to the diet. A good time for the fruit to be eaten is at breakfast time when it stabilizes blood sugar and offers a slow release of energy into the bloodstream for the rest of the day.

Almonds - Almonds are the perfect power snack that can be eaten to bring up flagging energy levels. Some of the benefits and vitamins contained within the nut are manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B2 and tryptophan. All of which, particularly manganese are responsible for producing energy, boosting positive moods and relieving stress and anxiety.

Coconuts - Coconuts have a long list of benefits such as

  • Promoting healing and cell repair
  • Improves insulin secretion and how blood glucose is utilized.
  • Provides a quick release of energy and helps the immune system.

Read more about the types of energy rich foods found in the Paleo diet

4. Less saturated fats

Fats are a necessary part of human function and survival, we need some element of fat to cover our vitals and organs and protect them from injury or shock. Fat is NOT the enemy. That said it is up to you to choose the least saturated and most heart healthy fats for your body. On the Paleo diet the choices would lean toward the most natural and unaltered choices think…

  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Nut and seed oils

While you may argue that the above mentioned oils could not possibly have been available in Paleolithic times, the argument is not so much how you prepare things for example sautéing and braising but what it is that you put into your body. If you are choosing a fat to appear in your cooking ask yourself how close to a naturally occurring vegetable or source the oil in question is.

5. Reduces bloating and inflammation

Done with enough water, the Paleo diet helps to eliminate gas and inflammation as it is low sodium, more natural and encourages healthy gut flora. Cells overall in the body benefit from the Paleo diet in that they are energized by high quality natural and fuel rich foods and proper dietary fiber.

6. It's liberating

We spend much of our lives enslaved to quick fixes and manmade fast foods and other processed goods. We imagine that a life without our desserts and fast foods would be a life of deprivation. The reality is that while the sugary, fatty and high GI foods have a special place on the market and certainly in the hearts and stomachs of some, there is a world of options that exist out there.

Especially with eating more quality foods and more natural ingredients you have the room to eat more food, so feeling hungry and deprived is not an option.

There are a number of reasons that many people have for embarking on diets and eating plans, some of which are more plausible than others. While diet fads may come and go, this one does stand out as a being noteworthy, purely for the reason that the diet itself is encompasses more than just what you eat, but also examines the quality of your life and how you live it.

Worth investigating? You decide!

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    • profile image

      Bucara 3 years ago

      I was vegetarian and then vegan for a decade. It gave me so many digestive problems and finally an autoimmune disease. I started searching for a better way to eat and heal myself. I found the paleo diet and booooooooommmmmm. Digestive problems gone, autoimmune disease in remission just after 3 months of eating paleo. Apart from that, the paleo diet is yummier!

    • weavesandbraids profile image

      weavesandbraids 3 years ago from Africa

      I really do not think going back to what we assume was the diet of our ancestors using the fruits available today is the best way to maintain good health.

      We have evolved and so has food. Who can say whether a banana to day has the same nutritional make up as Fred Stones.

      It is healthy to eat veggies, but is going vegetarian the only route to health. We are omnivores not cud chewing cattle

    • profile image

      jc 3 years ago

      In recent years, the “paleo diet,” a diet based on the perceived eating habits of prehistoric people has become wildly popular. But, says paleontologist Christina Warinner, this diet is based on an incorrect view of how early humans lived. Using modern day research, Warinner traces the roots of the human diet to discover what we can really learn from the food of our ancestors. http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Debunking-the-Paleo...

      Science Debunks the Paleo Diet—Again

      http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/07/16/science...

      The Paleo Diet Is Uncivilized (And Unhealthy and Untrue).

      http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2012nl/jun/paleo2....

      If the Paleo Diet fad is so healthy and responsible for brain growth, then why didn't the Neanderthals survive and thrive? They had 300,000 years in Europe following the diet to make themselves into "Einsteins!" Speaking of Albert Einstein, this is what he had to say on the subject of health and survival: "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." http://www.veganfitness.net/viewtopic.php?t=723 & http://nutritionfacts.org/.

      You get better results with a vegan lifestyle, without the high risks of cancer and heart disease, which most cavemen didn't live long enough to experience. It's eliminating processed foods and eating veggies that make you healthy!

      "Tens of millions of people are enjoying long, healthy, vegan lifestyles today and these numbers dwarf the total number of paleolithic people ever born."

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      Ana 3 years ago

      This is a great intro to the Paleo diet. seems like a pretty strong lifestyle change but one that would be great for an overall body and mind transformation. Thanks for the hub!