The Paleo Diet: A Revolution In Your Nutrition
Vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, macrobiotic, gluten-free, alkaline – the list goes on. Judging by the number of trending diets, food scarcity seems to be the least of mankind’s problems.
A year or so ago, another cool label joined the dieting bandwagon – the much-debated Paleo.
And while carne lovers rejoice at the idea of an eating regimen that encourages the consumption of both lean and fatty meats, many nutrition experts are warning about the caveman diet’s incompatibility with the 21st century lifestyle and its gross disregard for some important food groups.
So what is this Paleo chimera precisely, and why is it so controversial?
Paleo Dos: Following in the footsteps of our ancestors
In essence, the Paleo diet is centered on foods that can be hunted (meat and fish) and gathered (vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs and eggs). Early hominoids were foragers by nature: they did not breed cattle or till soil, so the meat they ate was pasture-raised and grass-fed, and non-carne ingredients were 100% free of pesticides and insecticides.
This is the main reason why the caveman diet is often referred to as the new face of organic eating: take out sugar, salt, artificial flavorings, refined vegetable oils and processed foods from the plate and you get a diet that is more in line with the mores of Mother Nature than the standard Western menu.
By refraining from industrial food, you will be less prone to sluggish digestion, food allergies and extra waistline inches, and your muscle mass will thrive with all the protein you get each day.
But is it all as stellar as the label says?
Paleo No-Nos: Transplanting ancient habits into the 21st century
Much to the dismay of contemporary cavemen, the environment we live in today is considerably different from the world our brave ancestors scoured in search of food and shelter.
The climate has changed (for the worse); human life is now governed by the pursuit of profit, success and entertainment, not by the ‘Scurry; sniff; flinch!’ code.
Instead of flipping stones, climbing trees and sneaking up to unwary prey, most people today spend hours at office desks and have meals either delivered to them or neatly lined up on supermarket racks. On top of that, the caveman diet is lacking in milk and its derivatives (which are modern man’s go-to for calcium), as well as precious fibers, minerals and vitamins found in grains and legumes.
And that is not all.
According to the Paleo commandments, the Paleo man had to steer clear of hungry predators that lurk in the darkness, so his 21st century descendant should also go to sleep as soon as the sun sets instead of partying or having nighttime fun. One may wonder, is Paleo really worth it?
Going Grok has its gains: Paleo is healthy, to a degree
After you switch to the caveman diet, you will probably notice a range of health benefits such as increased brain power, improved focus, higher energy levels and faster fat burn within weeks.
Hardened Paleo advocates claim that the caveman diet can also reduce long-term risks of diseases of affluence such as cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes type 2, depression, high blood pressure, and even cancer.
This sounds impressive, considering you will not have to sacrifice palate-tingling flavors for the sake of good health: there are thousands of yummy Paleo recipes out there that will certainly live up to your highest gourmet norms.
So, is Paleo actually the long-heralded diet that will revolutionize the way we live, eat and treat our food? Maybe it is – but then again, it may not be.
The Paleo diet does have a number of upsides, but before you grab the cudgel and retire to your cave, take heart: we still live in the 21st century. Humankind has come a long way since the Paleolithic, and the odds of evolution going clockwise, though possible, are rather slim.