The Paleo Diet Explained
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE
The paleo diet is considered to be the native human diet, to which we were genetically adapted about ten thousand years ago. Also called the Caveman, Primal, Hunter/Gatherer and Stone Age Diet.
Lean meat and fish, ideally organic meat and wild (not farmed) fish,
A wide variety of leafy vegetables with no exclusions,
Vegetables - excluding potatoes, but including sweet potatoes,
Fruits - primarily berries and fruits native to the country of residence,
Nuts (no peanuts, as these are legumes and not nuts),
Free range eggs from chickens that forage the land.
GUIDELINES ON HOW TO IMPLEMENT THE PALEO DIET
Buy only fresh, real foods and prepare it yourself as much as possible.
Avoid eating wheat, corn, rice and other grains and legumes. Instead increase your vegetable consumption. If you choose to eat some legumes, eat them sparingly and prepare them to minimize toxins, for example by soaking them.
Don’t eat sugar, corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Sweeteners like stevia or honey can be used occasionally.
Avoid all processed foods and vegetables oils such as: canola oil, corn oil, soy oil.
Instead, use animal fats, butter, ghee, lard or coconut oil and olive oil.
Eat plenty of high-quality meat, preferably from pastured animals. Grass-fed meats have a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fats than grain-fed meats.
Eat more fish, preferebly wild.
The paleo diet is also about body work as well, so try to make an effort and do as much exercise as as you can.
EVALUATION OF SCIENCE BEHIND THE CLAIMS
The nutritional science of the paleo diet is based on the hypothesis that the human species has not adapted to the dietary changes resulting from the development of agriculture over the past ten thousand years.
A diet of lean meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables while avoiding processed foods and sugar results in better health, and “improvement over a wide range of parameters: lipid profiles, insulin secretion, BP and vascular reactivity, all without increasing activity levels or taking any medication”.
Dr David Perlmutter in his book “Grain Brain” states that “as a species, we are genetically and physiologically identical to those humans that lived before the dawn of agriculture”, and that studies have shown that a diet that includes large quantities of grain and its by-products contributes to hypertension, obesity, Alzehimers, and various other health problems caused ultimately by inflammation.
EFFICACY OF THE DIET
Even short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improves BP and glucose tolerance, decreases insulin secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and improves lipid profiles in healthy sedentary humans.
Over a 3-month study period, a Paleolithic diet improved glycemic control and several cardiovascular risk factors compared to a Diabetes diet in patients with type 2 diabetes.
In two weeks improved several cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with the metabolic syndrome (abdominal circumference, blood pressure, glucose, lipids). Despite efforts to keep bodyweight stable, it was also observed an unintended weight loss.
A major advocate of the diet is Dr. Wahls - clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa - After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, adopted a nutrient-rich Paleo-style diet, integrating it with a regimen of neuromuscular stimulation. First, she walked slowly, then steadily, and then she eventually was able to bike eighteen miles in a single day. She shared her remarkable recovery in a TEDx talk 'Minding My Mitochondria' that immediately went viral. In her book 'The Wahls Protocol' she advocates Paleo principles and functional medicine as a radical new way to treat all chronic autoimmune conditions.
SAFETY OF THE DIET
On the whole Paleo when done correctly is considered to be very safe as the diet consists mostly of fresh, organic and unprocessed foods. However there are some precautions to keep in mind:
Women need adequate carbohydrates during pregnancy to ensure adequate fetal brain development and growth. High protein diet can be dangerous during pregnancy, and when you lower carbohydrate as a major macronutrient, you usually can’t help but increase protein.
Hypothyroidism is one of the most commonly cited medical reasons for needing to eat a moderate carb diet.
If you are training at high intensity and following a low-carb diet you may eventually exhibit signs of overtraining and exhaustion.
Adrenal fatigue is another condition where a moderate carb intake is important for general health.
Boers, I. Muskiet, F.A.J. Berkelaar, E. et al. (2014). 'Favourable effects of consuming a Palaeolithic-type diet on characteristics of the metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled pilot-study', Lipids Health Disease, 13 (160). Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4210559/ (Accessed: 14 October 2015)
Bubbs, M. (2014). ARE YOU EATING ENOUGH CARBS FOR OPTIMAL RECOVERY? Available at: http://thepaleodiet.com/eating-enough-carbs-optimal-recovery/ (Accessed: 14 October 2015)
Cordain, L. (2011). The Paleo Diet. 2nd ed. United State of America: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. Xi – 67
Cytoplan (2016). What constitutes a good diet? Worcester: Cytoplan Ltd.
Frassetto, L.A. Schloetter, M. Mietus-Synder, M. et al. (2009). 'Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet', European journal of clinical nutrition,63 (8). Available at: http:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19209185 (Accessed: 14 October 2015)
Jönsson, T, Granfeldt, Y. Ahrén, B. et al. (2009). 'Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study', Cardiovascular Diabetology 8 (35) Available at: http://www.cardiab.com/content/8/1/35 (Accessed: 14 October 2015)
Kresser, C. (2014). Is a low carb diet ruining your health? Available at: http://chriskresser.com/is-a-low-carb-diet-ruining-your-health (Accessed: 14 October 2015)
Perlmutter, D. (2014). Grain Brain. The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar - Your Brain's Silent Killers. London: Yellow Kite Books, pp. 23-31.
Wahls, T. (2014). The Wahls Protocol. How I beat progressive MS using paleo principles and functional medicine. New York: AVERY Penguin Book (USA) LLC.