The word “diet” has become almost synonymous with the word “healthy”. If you want to be fit and healthy, you need to stick to one diet. One of the most popular diets these days is called the Paleo diet.
Also known as the “Caveman Diet,” the Paleo diet rests on a very simple idea: human digestion is best adapted to the foods that were available during the caveman days. The Paleo diet consists mainly of lean meats, vegetables, and fruits.
Here are 10 interesting facts about the Paleo Diet:
1. Yes, fire is your friend
The most common misconception about the Paleo diet is that you have to eat everything fresh and raw. Many people have this idea that cavemen did not know about the concept of fire, and thus had to eat their food as it is, uncooked. Not only is this unappetizing, but considering the amount of unwanted live bacteria found in food, it might be dangerous as well. These bacteria can only be killed when raw food, like meat, is exposed to heat. There are definitely no cooking utensils available during the Paleolithic Era, but people from that age have already discovered fire and started practicing cooking.
The thing to remember about the Paleo diet is that it’s more about the type of food that you eat, rather than the way that you eat them. Thus, it is possible to cook your food when you are following the Paleo diet, however, when it comes to fruits and vegetables, eating them raw is a good option as well. Just make sure to clean the produce properly before you eat them.
2. No such thing as agriculture
The cavemen are known for being heavy on hunting and gathering. All the food that they ate were either freshly killed, of freshly picked. Agriculture as a practice did not exist during these times, so cavemen did not cultivate or harvest any crops. They did not practice any livestock farming either. They just depended on what nature has in store for them. They did not know how to reproduce plants and crops. Therefore, everything they ate was 100% fresh and organic. Meaning, no chemicals like pesticides were involved, unlike what we have now in the modern world.
The Paleo diet excludes any food that has to be cultivated or farmed. There is an exception to this provided that the crops are 100% organic, meaning there are no chemicals involved in planting. You can eat grains, provided that they can be found growing in the wild. When it comes to agricultural products, the Paleo diet consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and berries. You should avoid grains and legumes.
3. Nose-to-tail dining
Nose-to-tail dining is something that the Paleo diet has in common with many chefs and restaurateurs these days. In the past, only the most desirable cuts of meat were used for cooking. Many “less desirable” parts, especially the meat from the head, and the internal organs were often discarded. They were viewed as “dirty” and of lesser quality.
With the Paleo diet, you are consuming the whole animal, which means that you are consuming a more balanced diet. You can balance the intake of lean meat with the fattier skin, innards, or fatty meat cuts. This also means that there is less meat being wasted when almost every part of the animal is being cooked and eaten.
Sometimes it is also good to include some meat innards to your meal because it is a good source of fat that helps balance your diet. It’s also important to know how to prepare those kinds of meat because some parts, especially the innards, require thorough cleaning.
4. It’s not all about meat
Another common misconception that a lot of people have about the Paleo diet is that it’s very heavy on the meat. However, it’s actually quite the opposite. Meat was actually a pretty scarce commodity during the caveman times; they had to risk life and limb every time they wanted meat. Gathering food from non-threatening plants was a lot safer. Therefore, they consume more plants and crops rather than meat from wild animals.
When cavemen would eat meat, they would, of course, eat organic, grass-fed meat. There was no livestock farming back then! So eating meat under the Paleo diet would mean that you would need to consume pasture-fed meats only. They contain a higher amount of beta-carotene, thiamine, calcium, riboflavin, and other nutrients compared to grain-fed livestock. When it comes to eggs, Paleo diet requires only pasture raised eggs versus conventional eggs you often find at the supermarket, again, because we’re talking organic here.
5. The advent of agriculture had its bad sides, too
When man started to farm their own food, the best effect was that they were able to ensure a steadier supply of food, and the once-nomadic cavemen could settle and create cities. However, agriculture actually had a negative side effect as well. Farmed grains and crops contain lower nutrients and vitamins compared to those that grow in the wild. Farming crops also reduced the variety of crops in man’s diet; before, men ate more than 120 different types of plants.
Today, 80% of agriculture is devoted to growing rice, potatoes, corn, and wheat. This is the main idea behind the Paleo diet: that the human digestive system is not adapted to consuming these four staple crops. Research has shown that, compared to the caveman days, the average human height decreased by around 13 cm once grains became part of our staple diet.
What’s more, people who consume these crops regularly have a lower life expectancy (around 7 years) compared to those who have a low-carb type of diet.
6. Yes to dairy, actually
Some die-hard Paleo followers will tell you that dairy is a huge no-no if you’re following the Paleo diet. This is true if you are strictly adhering to the rules of the Paleo diet. Since there was no livestock farming during those times, humans would not have been able to harvest milk from milk-producing livestock such as cows and goats. This means that for the aa Paleo diet, milk and other dairy products are not allowed.
However, recent research has suggested that milk is actually slowly becoming part of the acceptable human diet. People who are on Paleo diet can actually consume dairy. More and more people are evolving to have the ability to tolerate dairy. Around 8,000 years ago, the human body began to produce lactase naturally, and today, more than a third of the world’s population can consume dairy safely.
Over time, the human race can evolve to produce lactase 100%.
7. Exercise is important
A lot of people also mistakenly believe that following the Paleo diet will make them fit and healthy. Since they are eating lean meats, fruits, and nuts, and avoiding carbohydrates and sugars, they would get thin over time. However, you should also keep in mind that the caveman lifestyle was very active. They spent most of the day hunting for food, therefore they had very little time to be sedentary.
The key to being fit is to exercise with just the right amount and time. Too strenous is harmful, and can lead to muscular inflammation, decreased immune system function, and reduced fat metabolism. In general, it’s best to get around 10,000 steps in per day, and some light cardio or stretching exercises as well.
Always remember, diet alone is not as effective as when you combine proper exercise and diet. Discipline and perseverance are the keys! Just because you strictly follow the Paleo diet, it doesn’t mean you would get fit in an instant without accompanying it with a regular exercise routine.
8. It was first created to treat a disease
The Paleo diet was first formulated to help those who are suffering from celiac disease. Celiac disease is a disease where a person cannot digest gluten, which is a major component of many grains. This disease affects millions of people around the world. This idea helped spawn the Paleo diet: that the human digestive system was never meant to digest gluten. As you all know, Paleo diet is a gluten-free diet, so this is perfect for persons who suffer from celiac disease.
Today, the Paleo diet is also recommended for many other autoimmune disorders. One disorder is multiple sclerosis, which is a very painful and degenerative disease. Patients with this type of disorder are advised to take the Paleo diet.
If your current diet is one that is generally composed of foods that promote inflammation, such as fats, salts, and sugar, it might be a good idea to switch to the Paleo diet.
9. No more vices
Under the Paleo diet, you should kiss your vices goodbye. Since there was no agriculture, there were no things such as coffee, tea, or even chocolate! Yup, you read it right, these are vices! You should also kiss your processed junk foods goodbye. You will be cutting out a lot of sugar, salt, and fat from your diet.
This also applies to a lot of processed foods such as bacon, deli meats, sausages, and just about everything you find in the frozen section in groceries. While there was meat available, the preservatives found in these foods were nowhere to be found.
During the Paleolithic Era, there were no means of curing meats and process other kinds of food. There were no preservatives and additives that make the shelf-life of foods longer. And because these are not available during that time, everything they eat is guaranteed fresh, and that’s what the Paleo diet is trying to teach us.
10. It’s also effective
Starting the Paleo diet entails more than just a simple change in your eating habits; it’s also a change in your lifestyle as well. Because Paleo diet requires the elimination of a lot of additives and preservatives in your diet, you should really change your lifestyle, regarding your food choices, to be able to enjoy the most out of the Paleo diet. Again, this would involve discipline and determination.
The Paleo diet focuses on a very simple and healthy lifestyle. You need to get a moderate amount of regular exercise and remove vices like drugs, alcohol, and smoking from your lifestyle. There is also a focus on getting regular quality sleep so that you can enjoy optimum health. If you are really determined in reaching your goal – which is to be physically fit – changing your lifestyle for your own benefit would be as easy as pie. Set specific goals during your new Journey with the Paleo diet, follow the path, and you’ll never go wrong.