The undeniable truth about the Paleo Diet is that for so many people, adopting the guiding principles and embracing the lifestyle changes with a little patience will result in improved metabolism, less low-grade, chronic inflammation caused by certain foods, stabilized hormonal functions and inevitably weight loss. Following a Paleo Diet hits the reset button, allowing the body to naturally heal from woes caused by many of the modern foods and lifestyle practices, while building the foundation for good health and well-being for years to come.
Contrary to existing misconceptions claiming that the Paleo Diet is all about consuming excessive amounts of red meat, restricting carbohydrates, consuming too much fat and others, the Paleo Diet is anything but. Although the thought of looking back at human evolution to begin searching for clues leading to optimal health lies at the origins of the Paleo movement, the Paleo Diet is not simply about trying to recreate what Paleolithic man ate, nor does the Paleo Diet restrict consumption of vegetables and healthy carbs relative to red meat. Arguably, the Paleo community consumes a lot more whole fruits and vegetables than most following a Standard American Diet unaware of toxic ingredients and mindlessly consuming highly processed, nutrient void ‘healthy’ junk food. Unlike the popular Ketogenic Diet (KETO), with which Paleo is frequently confused, the Paleo Diet does not promote the consumption of dietary fat in large amounts, nor does it restrict it, focusing rather on fat quality. The Paleo Diet is not dogmatic. The Paleo Diet is continually evolving and embracing the most recent scientific findings. The Paleo Diet is about finding balance, a notion that spills over into everyday life. The Paleo Diet is about being mindful of what daily choices.
Skeptics may argue that the foods available today are not the same as they were thousands of years ago and prehistoric humans evolved independently and followed diverse diets. However, what is difficult to dispute is the scientific evidence on what certain foods available today do to the body. It becomes clear that it is irrelevant whether ancient man ate cereal for breakfast or not. What does matter is the effect that cereal has on health and well-being. This is precisely what makes the Paleo Diet so convincing – its endless pursuit of optimal health and well-being.
Although it may sound like another apocryphal, “miracle cure” diet that is making promises it can’t deliver, the Paleo Diet is firmly implanted into the fabric of nutritional science around the world. A Paleo lifestyle is not merely another diet, but rather a biological necessity for the optimal functioning of human beings, the result of a painstaking natural selection process that took over 2 million years to perfect, creating the most dominant species on Earth – humans.
The ability to consume many things that fuel our body today became possible due to this unique adaptation as species to safely digest and metabolize certain foods, while extracting all necessary nutrients needed to support physiological needs. Research has shown that the longer it took to adapt to digesting certain foods, the better humans became at extracting their nutritional value with the least potential for harm to digestive, immune and endocrine systems. That means that the food humans were eating for two million years, before the agricultural expansion 10,000 years ago, when your ancestors provided for themselves by fishing, hunting, and gathering, should be a better fit for consumption than grains, beans, sugar and dairy products that entered the diet in the Neolithic age.
Proponents of the Paleo Diet emphasize that agriculture, which humans developed about 10,000 years ago, provided for quantity at the cost of quality: less nutrition, more calories and ‘a full belly’. Modern day humans are not that different from humans with approximately 90% of the evolution of the modern-day human occurring before the Neolithic era. It is clear we’ve evolved to work well with it, otherwise we would not be here to contemplate about its benefits. In fact, one need only look at hunter gathering societies existing today to see that this lifestyle leaves them tall, healthy, fit and lean.
The Paleo Diet works for women and men alike. Even though there is a widespread misconception that ‘women did the gathering’ and ‘men did the hunting’, there are societies where the hunting is done by both genders. Furthermore, meals were shared by men, women and children, young and old.
When following a Paleo Diet, the majority of the foods eaten provide high nutritional benefits for a relatively low caloric intake. Sugar, for example, provides little to no nutritional benefits whilst providing a lot of calories, all of which are easily stored as fat. There is also no need to diet through the effort of weighing your food, calculating calories and macronutrients and scheduling meals. You simply do your research for some adequate food sources and periodically stock up (depending on spoilage etc.). You don’t need to worry about anything else, you eat when you’re hungry, as much as you want, day or night.
When eating real, whole, nutrient dense foods it is extremely challenging to eat more than you need or over-eat because most of the food you are eating provides the nutrition your body needs without overloading your calorie intake. Common-sense dictates that the Paleo Diet offers really great nutrition at adequate calorie levels, so you can eat to satiety and remain satiated longer. The Paleo Diet it clearly provides a rounded and adequate nutritional input, there’s indisputable science behind this.
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The Paleo Diet is your best option for a number of reasons,
- Helps eliminate foods that cause inflammation
- Promotes self-healing
- Restores healthy digestion and gut flora
- Reduces risk of autoimmune disease, allergies, and cancers
- Balances Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio which supports optimal heart health
- Restores proper hormone functioning and signaling
- Manages diabetes by restoring insulin sensitivity, improving glucose tolerance and stabilizing blood sugar
- Improves mental health, mood swings and cognitive functioning
- Restores metabolic functioning and helps control weight naturally
- Promotes adequate sleep and vital rest
The most important reason a Paleo diet is your best choice for your wellbeing has little to do with anthropology or physiology:
The Paleo Diet is the optimal human diet because its premise is simple to understand, makes logical sense, removes the need for counting calories, and removes willpower from the equation. Similar to other lifestyle habits, the pretty good routine you follow is better and produces superior results than the perfect one you don’t. The Paleo Diet may be modified and adapted to suit your needs, goals and preferences. It works and is easy to follow.
Paleo enthusiasts tend to look at their Paleo lifestyle as more than simply a diet, they think in terms of paleo insights: What can we learn from the foods we evolved with? Paleo is incredibly useful as a critique of ultra-processed food which no longer relies on anything like the fresh and original food ingredients that even our recent ancestors ate in abundance. Paleo thinking leads to efforts to raise livestock in a way that’s somewhat akin to the system they evolved with. This means on pasture, for example and not force-feeding them grains and beans in barns. Likewise, it leads logically to more organic methods of growing, and to much wider ranges of foods that are eaten daily, as was common when people foraged for food.
In North America, people tend to think in terms of diets, calories and macronutrients, which are only partially responsible for what we eat. Paleo does not get caught in that trap. The Paleo Diet encourages you to look a little wider and deeper and think of food systems.
A Paleo Diet is not about blindly imitating ancient man’s eating habits. In fact, it didn’t even matter what they ate. What was far more important was the scientific data and years of research that clearly demonstrated that biologically justified nutrition, lifestyle choices, and exercise lead to well-being. There are many diets to choose from, and each diet carries a promise of optimal health. At the end what matters is whether they can fulfill that promise consistently over time. The Paleo Diet, with its focus on a mindful approach to nutrition, even when observed sporadically, delivers that promise more consistently than any other diet.
Michal Ofer is a wellness and digestion expert and nutrition coach. She is focused on assisting clients to take control of their health and happiness through the sustainable food and lifestyle choices that best support them. Through strengthening the body from the inside out, her clients are able to reach new heights of health, happiness and wellness. Michal obtained her Professional Training and Certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She has a further studied through the University of Colorado (Boulder) and Stanford University and is a Certified 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach. Michal has also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences and a Master Life Coach Certification. For further information and to connect with Michal visit her website at www.michalofer.com