The paleo diet has become one of the most popular lifestyle crazes in our modern world. Based on the lives of our ancient ancestors, the paleo diet boasts a variety of advantages. But what exactly does it mean to be a paleo diet follower? From its deepest origins, diet details, and benefits, to reasons and important considerations to take, here's everything you need to know about the paleo diet.
The Paleo Diet: The Basics
Sometimes also referred to as the Stone Age or caveman diet, the paleo diet is a dietary lifestyle that is based on the lives of our Paleolithic era ancestors. During this early era, our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate what they could hunt or gather themselves. With the aim of returning to a more natural way of eating, the paleo diet can help provide a healthy and nutritional diet for many.
Purpose and History of the Paleo Diet
Many people around the world, as well as members of the scientific community, believe that many health issues faced by modern humans are a result of our modern diets. Today's food and the diets of modern humans can aide increase a person's risk of developing problems like obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It is believed that the human body is not scientifically or genetically matched to the diets we typically eat today, with advancements outpacing our ability to adapt.
The paleo diet is designed to remove this modern diet, by living a nutritional lifestyle that resembles what our human ancestors (hunter-gatherers) ate as early as 2.5 million years ago. Before farming and innovation emerged, humans ate a diet which was necessary and not desirable.
In the 1980s, the paleo diet started making its way into modern society. First popularized by Professor of Anthropology Dr. S. Boyd Eaton, the paleo diet was featured in a book which made the argument that what our ancestors ate then is what human bodies are built to eat.
Following the Paleo Diet
When you follow a paleo diet, your diet is rich in whole foods that all provide healthy, nutritional value. The foods our earliest ancestors were limited to what they could hunt and find in the natural world around them. And as evolutionary beings, our ancestors ate only what they needed. The paleo diet consists of foods that our body is designed to eat and digest, including the following:
Basic and limited, the paleo diet strives to eliminate foods from a person's diet that emerged when farming and agriculture became commonplace (around 10,000 years ago). These types of foods, which are not naturally accessible or produced, can include:
- Grains and wheat
- Refined sugars and trans fat
- Processed foods
It is important to note, however, that the paleo diet puts emphasis on more than the types of food you eat. The paleo diet should be considered more as a type of lifestyle, with emphasis also placed on being fully hydrated, physically active, and mentally balanced.
Benefits and Advantages of the Paleo Diet
Your most natural human state is more similar to our Paleolithic ancestors, and those ancestors were scientifically designed to adapt, survive, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. By eliminating modernized food from your daily diet, the paleo diet can provide you with the following advantages and benefits:
Weight loss - Research has found that people who follow the paleo diet can lose weight, but also maintain a low weight. This decrease in body mass has also been shown to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Better appetite management - Eating less-processed foods, sugars, etc. and replacing them with whole foods helps to energize your body with long-lasting sources of energy that help you stay fuller longer.
More controllable blood pressure - The paleo diet can help keep weight in check, which helps decrease the risk of high blood pressure. In addition, the paleo diet has been shown to reduce a person's overall, systolic blood pressure.
Lower triglyceride levels and improved glucose tolerance - Eating healthier foods rich in good nutrients can help keep all your triglyceride numbers, as well as how you tolerate glucose, in check.
Decreased risk of anxiety and depression - Processed foods and sugars have been shown to have a strong connection to our brains and how it works. The paleo diet helps provide your brain with healthy food that fights off feelings of anxiety and depression.
Considerations and Risks
Some scientists believe that it is important to note that our ancestors ate what was available to them, to ensure their survival. Our ancestors were also limited to the area in which they were living. And just because our ancestors survived on this diet, doesn't mean they were always a pillar of perfect health. You may make modifications to this Paleolithic idea in order to optimize your health. Scientists believe that some people who partake in the paleo diet may not be getting enough of some essential nutrients that aid in a healthy body, mind, and soul. It is important to take into consideration these nutritional drawbacks, to help you find solutions and stay on top of your health. The nutrients which may be found lacking in a paleo diet include:
- Vitamin B12
Before starting any diet or lifestyle trend, it is important to discuss options, concerns, and questions with your doctor or medical team. While the paleo diet boasts a variety of benefits, your healthcare provider can help you address any risks or concerns.
What to Expect While On a Paleo Diet
When you're ready to start a paleo diet, you should expect to start losing weight. Depending on your strict adherence to the paleo diet basics, you could potentially lose weight very quickly. Staying physically active and practicing other healthy lifestyle habits will also help you lose weight. Keep track of your weight-loss to ensure you are not losing too much, too fast. Be sure to take special care in ensuring you are getting the nutrients which the paleo diet lacks most. You may start to notice differences in areas other than your physical health as well, such as better sleep patterns, increased energy, and improved motivation.
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