Basically, the Paleo diet is an effort to revert your diet back to the way people used to eat, before processed foods, sugary additives and pesticides and toxins. For several million years men and women foraged for their foods. They hunted, fished and planted.
But, while our diet has changed over the years, our bodies haven’t. This means that while our taste buds have gotten used to high sugar content, lots of carbohydrates and processed and boxed foods, our digestive systems are built to metabolize foods that we get from our gardens or from hunting. The Paleo diet is an effort to mimic the diet that was once popular by men and women who lived long lives without cancer, cardiovascular disease and diseases triggered by the inflammatory response in our body to our current diet.
Our brain and body continues to need the same nutrients, vitamins and elements that our ancestors ate. Both Dr. Walter L Voegtlin, author of The Stone Age Diet in 1975, and Dr. Loren Cordain who began popularizing the Paleo diet, agree that the body requires the nutrients found in lean meat, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables to function optimally. (1)
The basic idea is that if the foods are in their basic unprocessed state, then they are the healthiest. Although common belief today is that whole grains and cereals are healthy, the Paleo diet does not include these. They also believe that you should steer clear of dairy, peanuts, potatoes, salt, refined vegetable oils, salt and of course refined sugar and processed foods.
What is encouraged are grass-fed meats, fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably without the toxins of pesticides and organically grown), eggs, nuts, seeds and healthy oils like those found in avocados, olive oil, walnut oil, flaxseed and coconut oil).
Many people turn to the Paleo diet because of the claim that it helps you melt the pounds off your body with little to no effort. However, like other nutritional programs, if you eat too much, you’ll gain weight. Believe it or not, you can eat too many fruits and vegetables!
The idea is to also stop when you feel full. If you can do that, you don’t have to count calories or watch every morsel that passes over your lips. If you have a tendency to eat for comfort, you’ll probably still have to watch the calories you eat.
According to the centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of adults who are overweight or obese is rising. More than 1/3 of the population is obese (35.7%) and no state in the US has a prevalence of less than 20% of their population that is obese. (2)
These numbers are alarming. The condition of obesity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and some of the leading causes of preventable cancers. The annual medical cost was $147 billion in 2008 and that number is only rising each year.
Until we can take control of the foods we are putting in our mouths, our weight gain will continue to spiral out of control, along with our health.
(1) Mercola: Caveman Cuisine
(2) Centers for Disease Control and prevention: Adult Obesity Facts
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