The Paleo diet is based on the premise that human beings are genetically adapted to eat what our ancestors ate in the Paleolithic.
It is also known as the stone age diet or caveman diet.
The Paleo diet considers that the most suitable foods for humans are those that were available in the Paleolithic era: meat, vegetables, eggs, oils, spices, herbs and seeds, fish, shellfish, fruits, nuts, and roots, which provide the amount of protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed.
It also proposes to avoid sugars and processed foods in general, but also other foods considered healthy such as legumes, cereals, and dairy.
Modern diets are the cause of many diseases
Research in biology, biochemistry, ophthalmology, dermatology, and many other disciplines indicate that it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, transfat fats, and sugar, the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, diseases of heart, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility, according to Robb Wolf, The New York Times bestselling author of ‘The Paleo Solution’ and ‘Wired to Eat.’
A little bit of history
The followers of the Paleo diet defend that the natural diet of the human being, cannot include flours, sugars or dairy because these foods were incorporated much later in the diet and are very recent in our evolutionary history.
It must be taken into account that before the Industrial Revolution, people consumed food that was raw materials of natural origin, almost without being processed.
That was the time when everything changed and the big factories began to process the food.
Evolution brought both advantages and disadvantages.
Until that time, additives and preservatives were avoided, but food had to be consumed almost immediately, in higher amounts, but fewer times a day.
The concept as we know it today was born more than 20 years ago.
The logical foundations come from the so-called Darwinian Medicine, with a scientific publication in 1991 Quarterly Review of Biology by Dr. George Williams and Dr. Randy Neese of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
This publication “The Dawn of Darwinian Medicine” explains how our ancestral past and our evolution affect the way we see and treat diseases today.
The most modern environments can cause various diseases.
Is the Paleo diet, the most natural diet?
The Paleo diet type of food includes large amounts of animal protein, fatty parts, and vegetables, whether fresh or frozen.
And removes packaged products from the shopping list.
It also recommends that meat comes from grass-fed animals and that fruits and vegetables are seasonal (and better organic produce).
That is everything as natural and less processed as possible.
Saturated fats are preferred in the Paleo diet
In fact, animal fat is good as long as it belongs to healthy animals.
Fruits with lower fructose content and higher amounts of antioxidants are preferable, as well as nuts rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as nuts and almonds and extra virgin olive oil is highly prized for dressing vegetables and salads.
What foods are allowed in the Paleo diet?
1. Lean proteins
Proteins constitute a large part of the basis of this diet.
The consumption of lean meats is recommended as they maintain strong muscles, healthy bones, and optimal immune function.
It has also been shown that protein also makes you feel satisfied between meals.
When we talk about lean meats we mean less fatty.
For example, lean meat is chicken breasts while lamb ribs are not lean.
The main message is that grass-fed meat, animals raised outdoors, is much healthier than conventional meat.
2. Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that have been shown to decrease the likelihood of suffering from a series of degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and neurological impairment.
Within fruits and vegetables, an almost endless fan of options opens up in front of you.
Despite the fact that most of us have always consumed a very small part of all the possibilities we have.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are not only the best at the time but also the cheapest.
3. Healthy fats
Not all proteins are equal nor all carbohydrates either. In the same way, not all fat is the same.
Scientific research shows that diets rich in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats drastically reduce cases of obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive impairment.
So what foods are considered a good source of healthy fats?
Foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fish oil and meat from free animals.
How to apply the Paleo diet in your lifestyle?
This type of diet is not based on telling you how much you have to eat by the weight of one food or another.
Protein should be the main part of the diet, along with the vegetables and fruit. And nuts, seeds, avocados, oils should be the smallest part.
This diet also does not establish the times you should eat a day.
It is best to eat until you are satiated and whenever you are hungry, eat again.
What foods you should avoid in the Paleo diet?
1. Dairy products
There are several reasons why this food is considered to cause more negative consequences for our health than benefits, such as:
They cause lactose indigestion
It is increasingly common to find people who do not tolerate lactose nowadays.
This is because a disaccharide that does not usually get along with the human intestine, causing major alterations.
There are different degrees of discomfort, from heaviness to total intolerance.
They cause insulin elevation
Consequently, dairy products with its carbohydrate content, cause a rapid increase in insulin to counteract the torrent of sugar flooding your body.
They are poor in magnesium and vitamin C
Dairy products are supposed to be a good source of calcium and that is why their consumption is promoted today.
In fact, dairy products do not help the health of your bones, the health of your bones is promoted with strength training.
2. Grains and cereals
Cereals have always been promoted as a good source of carbohydrates. What has not been emphasized so much are the cons.
They contain gluten
Gluten is a trace that no human digestive system can digest so that it is hanging around our intestines until it ends up being expelled.
These traces cause poor digestion, a feeling of swelling and in the worst cases, total intolerance.
They are low in minerals and vitamins
Its consumption is usually done to the detriment of the true source of carbohydrates, the fruit, and vegetables that are naturally loaded with all the micronutrients we need.
They are high in the glycemic index
One of the objectives is to find stable blood sugar levels, which is called normoglycemia.
When we eat foods with a large amount of sugar, the amount of blood sugar is triggered and to control this situation we secrete insulin into the bloodstream.
After many years of secreting insulin to compensate for the high blood sugar, our body may be exhausted from doing this action, and diabetes-like diseases can develop.
All your life you have been told that you had to eat legumes that are very good and with a lot of iron and protein.
Well, that is only half of the story.
So let’s take a look at the whole picture.
Phytates are a problem
The bioavailability of the minerals that are cited as a beneficial part of the consumption of legumes, is compromised to the difficulty of your body to digest them.
That is why when this food is consumed, swelling, gas, and flatulence usually appear.
Phytates are the largest phosphorus store in the plant, but only ruminant animals can digest them because they have the phytase enzyme needed to process them.
The problem is that phytates adhere to magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and basically remove them from your body
It has been shown that some of the phytates disappear when left to soak for 8-12 hours.
They contain lectins
Legumes are proteins present in plants that have the function of protecting the plant itself for its own survival.
They cause considerable intestinal discomfort to those who consume it so that this predator learns not to eat that plant anymore.
On the other hand, there are studies that indicate that lectins are completely deactivated once the legumes are cooked at 100 ° Celsius for 10 minutes.
4. Added sugars
The biggest problem with added sugar is that we don’t really have the awareness of how much we ingest without realizing it.
Added sugar causes large spikes in blood sugar and then insulin.
With the abuse of sugar, you can get diabetes among other important diseases.
5. Processed foods
All the foods of the ‘new era’ that we have invented have little to do with the real food.
By cutting out these foods, you will also be cutting out the sugars we mentioned before.
This group includes all the pastries, pre-cooked dishes, fast food, foods that pretend to be dietary with extra vitamin “this”, or mineral “that”, soft drinks and alcohol.
Basically all these products are a time bomb against your health because they are loaded with chemicals, sugars, and salt.
What are the benefits of the paleo diet?
Proponents of the Paleo diet claim that this type of diet brings many health benefits such as:
Keeping foods with high amounts of sugar out of your diet prevents peaks of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
In relation to a more stable level of blood sugar, there is better energy because it does not feel the “downturn” and improves mood.
2. Prevents autoimmunity diseases
Autoimmunity or self-immunity is a process in which your own immune system “attacks you” in order to prevent some bad conditions.
All the diseases that can be developed of this nature, apparently unrelated, share a common cause: they damage the intestinal mucous.
The Paleo diet seeks good health in the digestion of foods, so the risk of autoimmune diseases decreases.
3. Decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases
The fact of being at your perfect weight and not having excess fats makes you no longer at risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
4. Helps you to lose weight
It turns out that following the Paleo diet you stop accumulating fat, which will help losing weight.
5. Helps with satiation
As in the Paleo diet is recommended that you eat until you are satiated and eat again when you are hungry, it is not a matter of measuring food strictly, which helps feel satiated until the next meal and avoid snacking between meals.
6. Improves your sleep patterns
It helps to sleep better basically because internally everything has been much more stable and controlled.
7. Decrease inflammation
As the food consumed does not cause inflammation, a reduction of the inflammation, in general, is achieved accordingly.
It makes sense, right?
8. Improves the condition of your skin
With fewer chemicals, sugars, bad fats and salt and more fruit and vegetables, the change is also noticeable in the state of the skin.
Which means less acne and softer and smoother skin.
What are the contraindications of the paleo diet?
Despite the many advantages of this diet, it also has some health problems.
Some of the contraindications of the paleo diet are:
1. Heart problems
As the Paleo diet is based on foods that are high in animal proteins such as seafood, lean meat, eggs or fish, it can cause an increase in bad cholesterol (LDL), a decrease in good cholesterol (HDL) and also increase the risks of suffering heart disease.
2. Kidney problems
With so much protein in your system, the kidneys have to work harder removing more urea from the bloodstream.
This can cause kidneys problems.
3. Vitamin D deficit
4. Can cause fatigue, irritability or tremors
When cereals, starches, and legumes are eliminated, some people may suffer from fatigue, irritability or tremor.
These symptoms can last between three or four weeks.
Some of the people following a low carbohydrate diet may have long-term symptoms of hypothyroidism.
That is because by losing a lot of weight, the body reduces thyroid function in order to save energy.
One of the characteristics of the Paleo diet, and actually any food depriving diet, is that you often have many cravings.
Especially sweets because it completely dispenses with any kind of sugars.
It is a process that occurs when the Paleo diet is implanted in people with low fat.
Burning it can cause bad breath, dizziness or even insomnia.