The whole food-based Paleo diet - short for Paleolithic - is a way of eating modeled after what individuals living in the Paleolithic era (AKA The Stone Age) might have eaten tens of thousands to even millions of years ago.
Founded by Loren Cordain, Ph.D, the Paleo diet consists mainly of foods that can be found by hunting and gathering, and limiting foods that increased in popularity once modern farming and food processing practices began. Loren
Cordain states that one of the healthiest diets is the paleo diet, in which hunter gatherers were known to have lower rates of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (Kris Gunners, Healthline).
Despite lack of significant evidence that the paleo helps to prevent or treat medical conditions, the diet may benefit weight loss, improve glucose tolerance, blood pressure control, lower triglycerides, and manage appetite.
The aim of the Paleo diet is to return the body to a way of eating that’s more aligned with how our genetics were designed. The belief is that the needs of the human body differ from the benefits provided by a diet enhanced by modern farming. Instead, the goal is to adhere to a way of eating that is more closely similar to what early humans ate.
How it works: In its simplest form, the Paleo diet consists of only foods that can be obtained via hunting and gathering, like humans did 2.5 millions years ago. The hunter-gatherer lifestyle focuses on naturally raised, organically processed foods and eliminates highly processed, mass produced foods. The best way to understand what this means today is to look at what foods are allowed on the Paleo diet, and what foods are prohibited.
The Paleo diet mainly consists of:
- Lean cuts of meat including beef, pork, and poultry, along with game animals like venison, bison, or quail. Organic or grass-fed options are preferred.
- Eggs in moderation, preferably free-range
- Fish and shellfish
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Certain oils in moderation, such as olive oil or flaxseed oil
Meanwhile, foods to avoid on the Paleo diet include:
- All dairy products - no milk, cheese, or butter
- Cereal grains including rice, wheat, and barley
- Starchy vegetables
- All sugars and sweets, including honey, soft drinks, and candy
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed foods including processed deli meats and bacon
Benefits: The Paleo diet is linked to weight loss, but also has a number of other benefits as well. Eliminating processed foods and replacing them with more nutritious, nutrient-dense options can certainly have a positive impact on overall health.
Studies also show that the Paleo diet can help to lower blood pressure and decrease other risk factors for serious health conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.