Back to the Stone Age with the Paleo Diet

Steak and Salad Paleo Diet photoThis is Part 2 of our articles on 'Leaky Gut' syndromefrom Natural Health Writer Hilary Marks. You can read part 1 of the Leaky Gut story here... Grains are ubiquitous in our daily diet, and the daily consumption of whole grains is routinely recommended as the best way to improve digestion, become more regular and prevent all kinds of health problems. This view is so widespread that few people bother to consider whether there is any drawback to a grain-rich diet. However, there are a growing number of researchers in nutrition who are gradually, but steadily, challenging this position. According to them, humans have not been designed to eat so much grain, and the current trend to view grains as the epitome of a healthy diet may actually be damaging. Most of the traits that the human body possesses are not necessarily adapted to present conditions, but to those that mankind was exposed to during the Palaeolithic period. Long before the invention of agriculture and the ensuing switch to a grain-rich diet, humans were getting their nutrients primarily from vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots and meat from hunting expeditions. Since human evolution took place under these conditions (the invention of agriculture is a relatively recent historical event), the proponents of the so-called “Paleo Diet” suggest that these are the kinds of food that we are hardwired to eat. Grains and sugars, on the other hand, are foreign substances at odds with our genetic ancestry, and they may be causing you more harm than good. In this interesting lecture, Professor Loren Cordain from Colorado State University (USA) explains this concept in detail.

Modern diet = Modern diseases

Certain health problems known as “diseases of affluence” or “diseases of civilization” have become more common as countries become more industrialised and their populations grow wealthier. This includes conditions that you are sure to be familiar with: Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, asthma, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease, amongst others. This is highly paradoxical, because the money and resources that are allocated to improve the lifestyle and general health of the population do not seem to have that effect, rather the opposite! But if these diseases are somehow related to the modern diet of industrialised societies, this suddenly makes sense. As people become more affluent, they switch their diet to one high in grains, sugars and processed foods. Since this kind of diet does not sit well with their genetic ancestry, toxins start accumulating in their systems and disease soon follows in several forms.

Going back to our to the Paleo Diet of your Ancestors

If the theory behind the Paleo Diet is true, then making a radical alteration of the food you eat every day could potentially have great benefits for your overall health. First, you should try to eliminate or greatly reduce your daily consumption of grain and dairy products, sugars and other sources of carbohydrates, such as starchy veggies (potatoes, peas and beans). The idea is to make your diet closer to that of your hunter-gatherer ancestors, so you should include plenty of meat and seafood (beef, pork, lamb, fish and shellfish), ideally obtained from animals that are raised free-range or organic. Eggs, fruits, nuts and low-starch vegetables can be used to complement your diet and make it more varied.

Paleo Diet may be the best way to eat

Remember that the main goal of the Paleo Diet is not necessarily to lose weight. It is to incorporate eating habits that are more in alignment with the way in which your body’s digestion has evolved, thus improving your general health and wellbeing. By adopting the Paleo Diet, you may even be protecting yourself against the “diseases of civilization” that currently plague industrialised societies.