Paleo Diet: Back to Our Ancestors Eating Habits?

Paleo Diet: Back to Our Ancestors Eating Habits?

A variety of vegetables, especially leafy greens like spinach, are a staple in a paleo diet. Aim for organic and/or free-range varieties to get more phytonutrients, fiber and extra minerals.

The paleo diet cuts out processed foods, sugar and salty snack foods, but also excludes grains, legumes and dairy. Zumpano says it’s important to make sure you’re getting adequate fiber, calcium and vitamins by incorporating other sources.

The paleolithic diet, more commonly known as the paleo diet, is a dietary regimen that seeks to emulate the eating habits of our human ancestors from the Paleolithic era. This period, spanning approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago, marked a time before the advent of agriculture when humans were hunter-gatherers. The central hypothesis of the paleo diet is that our bodies are genetically predisposed to eat the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors did, and this diet could help reduce the incidence of chronic diseases prevalent in the modern world.

The paleo diet primarily includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds — foods that could be obtained by hunting and gathering. It excludes food groups like dairy products, legumes, and grains, which became staples in the human diet after the invention of agriculture.

Potential Health Benefits of the Paleo Diet

The paleo diet has gained popularity over the years, partially because of its potential health benefits, which are underpinned by its emphasis on whole foods and elimination of highly processed products. Here are some of the purported benefits of this ancestral approach to eating:

Weight Loss: The paleo diet’s emphasis on lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables naturally results in a diet lower in carbohydrates and higher in fiber and protein, which are known to promote satiety. This, along with the elimination of processed foods, which often contain added sugars and unhealthy fats, may aid in weight loss.

Improved Glucose Control: By eliminating refined carbohydrates and added sugars, the paleo diet can help manage blood sugar levels, which could be particularly beneficial for individuals with or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Heart Health: The diet’s emphasis on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds contributes to a high intake of fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. These nutrients can help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce inflammation, potentially leading to improved cardiovascular health.

Gut Health: The paleo diet, rich in fiber and devoid of processed foods, can promote a healthy gut microbiome. Fiber serves as a prebiotic, providing nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria. Furthermore, eliminating processed foods may reduce the intake of artificial additives, which could potentially harm gut bacteria.

Controversies and Concerns Surrounding the Paleo Diet

While the paleo diet has its benefits, it’s not without controversy and potential drawbacks:

Nutrient Deficiencies: By eliminating whole food groups like dairy and grains, adherents of the paleo diet may miss out on essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D (from dairy) and B vitamins (from grains). These deficiencies can be mitigated by consuming a variety of foods and focusing on nutrient-dense choices within the allowed food groups.

Sustainability: The diet’s restrictive nature can make it difficult for some people to follow in the long term. Furthermore, there are concerns about the environmental impact of a diet heavy in meat consumption, considering the high carbon footprint associated with meat production.

Scientific Debate: Critics of the paleo diet argue that our ancestors’ diets varied significantly depending on their geographic location and available food sources. Moreover, human bodies have arguably evolved and adapted to our current diet that includes grains and dairy. Therefore, it’s debatable whether reverting to an ancestral diet is beneficial or necessary.

Making it Work for You

If you’re considering the paleo diet, it’s essential to approach it with balance and flexibility in mind. While the diet provides a framework, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and individuals should adjust it according to their personal health needs, food preferences, and lifestyle. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can also help ensure that you’re meeting your nutritional needs while following this eating pattern.

The paleo diet, based on the eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, can offer several potential health benefits, primarily due to its emphasis on whole foods and elimination of processed products. However, it’s important to consider its potential drawbacks and the ongoing scientific debate around its principles. As with any dietary approach, individual needs, balance, and moderation are key.


Kerri Waldron

My name is Kerri Waldron and I am an avid healthy lifestyle participant who lives by proper nutrition and keeping active. One of the things I love best is to get to where I am going by walking every chance I get. If you want to feel great with renewed energy, you have to practice good nutrition and stay active.

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