Paleo refers to the period about 50,000 years ago when the blueprint for human physiology – our genetic code – was stamped into its present form, during the what’s called the ‘Late Paleolithic’ period.
What’s that mean? Well, let’s first look at how our prehistoric Paleo hunter-gatherer ancestors ate – they gathered plants and hunted or scavenged wild animals. So, our ancestors ate nuts, seeds, lots of plants (mostly vegetables and some fruit), and wild animals. Do you notice what’s missing from that list? That’s right – there wasn’t Starbucks, McDonald’s, Domino’s, supermarkets, Red Bull, Dunkin’ Donuts, Twizzlers, refrigeration, salt, chemical preservatives, processed vegetable oils – you get the idea.
Grains – the Lucifer of foods
But, most notably, what’s missing from that list above, what our ancestors didn’t eat was … grains. That’s right, no cereals, breads, pasta, pizza, crackers, bagels, cookies. Humans started utilizing agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago and this is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT: because grains weren’t part of our environment for the eons leading to the formation of our genetic code, the human body doesn’t digest or metabolize grains well at all . In fact, GRAINS ARE VERY BAD FOR HUMANS.
Yes, that flies in the face of what most people have been led to believe, even some misinformed doctors and of course, our lobbyist-influenced governments who make recommendations for eating multiple servings of grains as part of a “healthy diet” (think Food Pyramid). The truth is that eating grains will result in a loss of health over time because eating grains causes inflammation, and promotes high insulin levels – both of which are hallmarks of nearly all disease processes.
Milk does a body … BAD
The other major food that wasn’t part of our ancestor’s environment or food supply was dairy products in general and milk in particular. Although milk doesn’t contain gluten like its evil twin grains, milk does cause elevated insulin levels, which, as mentioned above, is a major contributor to many disease processes.
So what am I supposed to do?
Eat lots and lots of vegetables, nuts and seeds, and pastured or wild animals. This means incorporating plants with your breakfast, salads and vegetables with lunch AND dinner. Snack on nuts and seeds with a little fruit. Make treats using ingredients such as coconut, raw chocolate (or unsweetened cocoa), nuts, seeds, coconut oil, almond flour, hazelnut flour, coconut flour. For example, a huge hit for all of us at Bonfire are Raw Chocolate Coconut Macaroons
Don’t forget your HEALTHY FATS
Fat is the body’s preferred source of energy - so make sure you eat lots of healthy fats. What’s a healthy fat? I’m glad you asked. Healthy fats come with eating healthy animal protein – pastured or grass fed beef, lamb; cage-free organic chicken, and wild caught fish. Healthy fats also include things like walnuts, avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil.
Avoid UNHEALTHY FATS
Unhealthy fats include the obvious foods – milkshakes, french fries, chips, and fried foods. What most people don’t realize is that processed vegetable oils in the form of corn oil, canola oil, soy oil and the like have become so common place within our modern processed food landscape that they’re in virtually all packaged foods.
Last, but not least … SUGAR
Another food that didn’t exist “back in the day” was sugar. A healthy Paleo diet does not include sugar. Yes, our ancestors probably had periodic opportunity to eat raw honey and fresh fruit, but it wasn’t readily available to eat at will, whim or craving. Sugar is highly toxic to the human body – please read ‘Sugar – Your Second Worst Enemy’.
Last, and most importantly … move toward eating well.
The goal isn’t perfection – it’s progression. Start here with the basics.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PALEO:
Paleolithic - Wikipedia
Paleolithic Diet – Wikipedia
The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain – considered the ‘father of Paleo science’
The blog of Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Diet Solution