Decoding the Paleo Diet: A journey to the Paleolithic Age from your kitchen

Published 20.04.2014 22:01

The pale o diet is grounded on several debatable rules, including the assumption of limited change in human genetics since the start of the agricultural age, the ability of modern humans to adapt diets from the Paleolithic age and the possibility of actually knowing that these diets were consumed in that time. It was initially popularized in the mid-1970s by gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin who has brought this to attention and additionally it has been promoted and adapted by several authors and researchers. A lot has been said and also written about this diet methodology in academic articles. Voegtlin was actually one of the first scientists who suggested that following a type of diet similar to that of the Paleolithic era would improve a person's health. In 1975, he, in a book titled "The Stone Age Diet," in which he discussed how humans are actually carnivorous animals. He noted that the inherited Paleolithic diet has a carnivore pattern, which included mainly fats and protein, with small additional amounts of carbohydrates.

He has established unique Paleolithic dietary prescriptions based on his own medical treatments of various digestive problems including colitis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion. Furthermore, when Eaton and Konner published a research article in the New England Journal of Medicine on Paleolithic nutrition, mainstream medical attention focused on the concept. Again, they published a book regarding this type of diet but this time they did not exclude foods that were not available before the development of agriculture. The foods included in their diet from the agricultural era were skimmed milk, whole-grain bread, brown rice, and potatoes prepared without fat, on the premise that such foods supported a diet with the same macronutrient composition as the Paleolithic diet.

The research has continued and the popularity of paleo diet has increased over the years and has become more prominent at the beginning of 2014. Almost everyone on a diet or even dieticians have accepted the method and started practicing or prescribing it. The paleo diet advertises that it can help users drop unwanted pounds and actually protect you from diseases including diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. In simple terms, this diet is solely based on what humans ate throughout caveman eras. Despite the plan's popularity and the published literature so far, misunderstandings about what it means to eat the paleo diet still continue and finding a way out is challenging.

Let's be honest here…This diet has nothing to do with carving pieces of red meat off the bone, it is mainly about focusing on the link between living off the land and longevity. It is a lifestyle change based on the idea that in the past 40,000 years, our DNA has changed very little. Therefore, eating processed foods like pre-packed meals, fast food, dairy products, and refined sugars invite disease and weight gain. The paleo diet helps to simplify your food choices and asserts that eating natural plants and animals is your prescription for optimum health. As I mentioned earlier, new research shows that the paleo diet is also helpful for people in protecting them from diseases (especially cardiovascular diseases) by downgrading your risk factors.

Eating healthy-natural-historical-unindustrialized food helps you lose weight and thus reduces your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The diet includes foods like fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, grass-fed beef, lamb, bison, duck, assorted fruits and vegetables, nuts and olive oil. These choices do provide a rich supply of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants.

Additionally, the diet focuses on foods that are low on the glycemic index, which prevents spikes in your blood sugar (the worst outcome of processed foods). Despite being focused mainly on lean protein, it is not a lowcarb plan. It focuses on foods that will boost your metabolism and keep you satisfied. Just like in the Paleolithic era! Complex carbohydrates, vegetable and fruits directly from produce and untreated animal protein. It is as simple as that. In research, it has been shown that women who followed this diet claimed to have lost up to 35 kilograms in just six months.

The result may not seem magical when compared to other popular diet plans but, in the long run it helps you more due to its nature of being an actual lifestyle change. And yes, that's what we want as physicians!Although the popularity of the paleo diet has increased among people looking to lose weight, there is a large number of people who use this program to treat symptoms of chronic disease.

There are alternative medicine specialists trying to calm down the symptoms of gastrointestinal system cancers by prescribing this type of diet to their patients. I am convinced as a physician that this stuff really works on these people. On the other hand, findings of people regarding the diet include improvement in energy, alleviation of pain, and even reduced dependency on certain medications.

You should never change your medications without talking to your doctor first of course, but we believe that these benefits are a result of healthy working gastrointestinal system, mainly the liver.

Rules of the Paleo Diet:

1. Form a Paleo style plate for every meal: Although eating healthy once a day is better than nothing, you should comply with your plan in every meal to achieve a lifestyle change. In the paleo diet, two-thirds of your plate should always include vegetables. The other third will be a portion of lean protein, one fruit and a spoonful of healthy fat.

2. Discard all foods that cause inflammation:

Since this diet tries to simulate foods from the Stone Age, it eliminates all the stuff that comes in bags or boxes (so called processed foods). Processed foods will mess up your immune system and create inflammation in your body. For this purpose you will need to cut out all dairy and refined sugars. Although complex carbohydrates are a part of this plan, you should only use the ones that are in fresh fruits and vegetables instead of consuming renowned complex carbohydrates, which are whole grains.

3. You do not have to count calories:

Stop! Read the rule again: It's not calorie counting yes, but it's also not taking off the limit and giving you the access card for binge eating anything you like.

It means that when you're eating balanced meals comprised of whole foods without preservatives, your body runs efficiently.

Paleo dieters maintain that by eliminating blood sugar spikes and crashes due to meals that do not contain processed foods or chemicals. This is why on this plan, you can eat until you're satisfied and still lose weight.

4. Keep the aspect ratio:

More than 70 percent of the total daily energy consumed by all people in the United States comes from foods such as alcohol, cereals, dairy products, refined sugars, and refined vegetable oils. The ratio of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates should always be kept within the normal ranges. The specific plant to animal food ratio in the Paleolithic diet is also a matter of some dispute. The average diet among modern hunting societies is estimated to consist of 64 percent to 68 percent of animal calories and 32 percent to 36 percent of plant calories, with animal calories further divided between fished and hunted animals in varying proportions.

We do accept naturally fed animals as hunted in today's world, but when you go out to buy some, always select the ones who are certified naturals. Despite its relatively low carbohydrate content, the Paleolithic diet involves a substantial increase in consumption of fruit and vegetables, compared to the Western diet, hypothetically as high as 1.5 to 2 kilograms each day. Fiber intake in pre-agricultural diets is thought to have exceeded 100 grams per day. This value is dramatically higher than the actual current intake of 15 grams per day in developed countries. The minimum fiber in diet should be 40 grams per day.

On the other hand, it has been estimated that people in the Paleolithic era consumed 11,000 milligrams of potassium and 700 milligram of sodium daily, which is totally reversed in today's world. Keeping the old ratio will improve cardiac functions, but you should be aware of constipation resulting with higher doses of potassium.

5. Protein rich breakfast

Traditional modern diets usually offer refined carbohydrates for breakfast and reserves proteins for lunch and dinner.

On the paleo diet, you can have any and as much protein on the table as part of breakfast. So open the fridge to grab dinner leftovers to fuel your day! By the way, a protein-rich breakfast will control your appetite for a long time, and you will not feel hungry for at least 6 to 8 hours. By starting the day with high protein, you may skip the lunch meal with a small pack of nuts that will save you from calories to fat, in the long run.

The paleo diet will benefit your body even if you comply with its rules just 85 percent of the time. Yes it is a lifestyle change but going 100 percent is hard! Take your time, allow 10 percent cheat meals throughout the beginning but you should be eating like a caveman within 30 days! Several researchers have also taken issue with the accuracy of the diet's underlying evolutionary logic or suggested that the diet could potentially pose health risks. U.S. News & World Report ranked the Paleo diet in the last rows, but since there is no consensus on what the plan really includes, the rankings may not be accurate. Going on a diet is very important if you are overweight, and thus selecting a healthier method is the most important step. If you fail to choose the right diet model, diets may harm your body while you would expect improvement!

Whatever your decision of diet type is, just try to make it sustainable for yourself, family and loved ones.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
Disclaimer: All rights of the published column/article are reserved by Turkuvaz Media Group. The entire column/article cannot be used without special permission even if the source is shown.
However, quoted column/article can be partly used by providing an active link to the quoted news. Please click for details..