Is the Jury out on the benefits of the Paleo diet?
What Was Consumed by the Caveman?
Well, we generally know what kind of animals roamed the earth during the Paleolithic era. This era started from 750,000 BC to 500,000 BC and ended around 8,500 BC. A very long time to study the animals, plants and the progression of man. They were hunter/gatherers not farmers. Wild animal meat of that era was likely not subject to the same environmental issues of our modern era so, the meat would be learner with less fat content and higher protein. For this reason, the Paleo diet stresses grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish and cage-free poultry.
Contrary to belief though, the people during the Stone Age were not always eating hunks of meat like Fred Flintstone.. Their diets consisted of only about 50% meat. The other 50% consisted of plants and vegetation. Their food sources consisted of fresh meat killed with bows and arrow or spears, fishing in lakes and streams that were likely clear and contaminant free, scavenging leftovers and gathering wild berries, plants, nuts and seeds.
There is actually some scientific evidence that Stone Age people ate grains perhaps even bread, which is restricted from the modern Paleo diet. In some archaeological digs some grinding rocks used to grind grain have been found. Bread? But we can’t eat bread, can we?
It is this information on which the modern Paleo diet is based. Today’s Paleo diet removes grains, legumes, potatoes, dairy products, and sugar. So, what is the issue? It worked for the Stone Age people didn’t it? Yes, it did because it was what they had to eat. They were lean and energetic, but had short life spans due to a whole range of causes. Wild animals, lack of security, warmth, likely having to move with seasons etc.
So, Does the Paleo Diet Really Work?
We live in the modern world of grocery stores, ice cream stores, restaurants, food courts, amusement parks and so on. Every other day some diet guru or some nutritionist or scientist comes out with this or that.
Well, those of you who know my blogs, know I am Paleo for the 99%. Meaning, we have to be flexible with our Paleo journey and above all achieve balance. Many nutritionists feel that grains are good for the body due to the energy they provide. The big issue with grains is the gluten. Many people are sensitive to it and wheat has been shown to cause weight gain. Remember, the Stone Age people hunted and gathered and even the agricultural community of the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries worked in the fields and expended a lot of energy and calories. Our modern lifestyle has become more sedentary, therefore rates of heart disease, cancer and diabetes have significantly risen while the Stone Age people likely had little to no incidences of these diseases.
As with all life forms, humans have evolved over time. Many people are as previously mentioned, affected by gluten, are also lactose intolerant and experience a variety of other food-borne allergies.
Flexibility With the Paleo Diet
The very reason why I write about flexibility as opposed to the many true believers of modern Paleo out there, (no offense to what works for them,) is their way of my way or the highway or a one size fits all approach is not going to win converts over the long term. Posting all these before and after pictures are fine, but, those results are their results. Everyone is different, everyone will approach things and interpret things according to their world view.
By the way, this also goes for the other side. Those who think the Paleo diet does not work, cite their own sets of reasons, scientific or nutritional facts.
As with any change in lifestyle, diet or exercise related, check with your Doctor to make sure your are a go health wise, then do your research. This is what I did and I came to the conclusion that the Paleo Diet Does Really Work. There are also some nice side benefits. I have experienced less stomach upset and significantly less intestinal gas. There are also some supplements that I take that I believe enhance my Paleo experience which I will discuss in a later post.
Now for the flexibility part. Giving up dairy for me was easy. I was not a milk drinker, did not care for ice cream, cheese was take it or leave it and could easily replace my coffee creamer with coconut creamer. Sugar? now that was the tough one. Love chocolate chip cookies! Well guess what? There is a company out of Utah, Wellness Bakeries who specializes in the most delicious mixes to make all kinds to make sweet baked goods and breads. I especially love, your guessed it, their chocolate chip cookies! Paleo friendly, gluten free, dairy free and all the good stuff. Check them out! Flexibility and Paleo Friendly!
Let’s Talk Cheat Days, Again
I would rather call them flexibility days. Have a slice of bread made from one of Wellness Bakery’s mixes. Have a glass of red wine, or as I like to do a shot of Sotol when I can find it. Certified organic, non-GMO, gluten free and no sugar. Oh, and no hang-over. Or since Sotol is soooo hard to find, a good Tequila made from 100% organic agave. Have sweet potatoes rather than white occasionally. Over the Holidays, it’s okay to have a traditional meal. You can find cage-free turkeys and gluten free stuffing and so on, but remember, the rest of your family may not be Paleo minded and this is where flexibility can help make the holidays the joyous occasions they are meant to be.
Does the Paleo Diet Really Work?
The answer to that question is to try to see if it does. Stop listening to all the noise on both sides of the question. Both sides can give you very good reasons for why it works or why it does not work. I have a very wise Uncle who says, “anything in moderation.” I have adopted and adapted the Paleo Lifestyle to work with me; I don’t work with it. My best recommendation for you would be to do the same if you want the Paleo Lifestyle to work for you.
I welcome your comments and questions. Please leave them below and I will get back to you ASAP!