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The paleolithic diet or “caveman” diet as it is commonly referred is a diet derived from the ancient hunter-gatherer types of food intake which our ancestors consumed. This diet is principally composed of fish, free range meat, game, nuts, seeds, eggs, vegetables and fruit.
The paleolithic diet is aptly named because this was the historical period corresponding to the pre-agricultural area when there was no farming or organized food production. This diet is rather unique because it essentially contains no grains or grain products, white potatoes, legumes or dairy. What i find very encouraging regarding this type of diet is that it excludes all processed foods, fats, sugar and canned foods. It contains higher amounts of protein and fat at the expense of carbohydrates and it has been associated with lower rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The paleolithic diet is a high-nutrient rich diet, which contains substantial amounts of fibre and much less sodium contrasting to the typical “western” diet. The diet has been criticized regarding the actual historical accurateness and the linkage between the genetic basis of our diets, evolutionary adaptation and disease. The main argument which has developed around the use of this type of diet is that our ancestors did not have the genetic capacity to consume up to 70% of their calories from refined carbohydrates, dairy products, grains, processed foods, sugar and oils.
Although no diet is perfect, this diet has some very good features, the rationale of which can be successfully utilized by most people.
• The diet is a low glycemic diet
The foods on this diet are low on the glycemic scale which implies that their consumption leads to less of an increase in blood sugar and insulin levels. People who are overweight or obese have a tendency to be carbohydrate intolerant so their diet must be designed to control and improve the degree of insulin resistance they have. Consuming this diet has led to a decrease in insulin secretion, blood sugar, blood pressure and markers of internal inflammation.
• The diet is lower in calories but nutrient-dense
The paleolithic diet involves the consumption of vegetables, fruit, spices, tubers, fish, seafood and free-range meat. This provides a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, fiber and high quality fat.
• The diet excludes grains and dairy products
In my opinion, most people eat far too many calories from cereal grains and dairy products, especially manufactured from cow’s milk. A number of the disorders involving the gastro-intestinal tract and the immune system have been attributed to the over-consumption of these food groups.
• The diet excludes processed foods and sugar
This is the feature I like most regarding the paleolithic diet. It rejects most if not all of what I consider to be the most dangerous aspects of the traditional “western” diet which is consumed in North America today. The reason why people are overweight, obese and suffer chronic illness is because of their lifestyle dynamics. This diet incorporates a mixture of a healthy diet and active lifestyle which has been shown to lower the risk of disease in those whom are at increased risk.
• The diet is low in calcium and vitamin-D
Although this diet contains less calcium and vitamin-D currently recommended in the standard North American diet, the calcium contained within the various food groups is quite absorbable. The content of vitamin-D can be improved by eating more oily fish, getting more sunshine or by consuming a supplement.
Dr. Kevin. J. McLaughlin
Clinical Director: The Vitality Project