The Paleo Diet, or Caveman diet, recommends a nutritional plan based on presumed eating patterns of our hunter-gatherer ancestors in Paleolithic period between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago. The diet typically includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, meat, and organ meat, while excluding foods such as dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, and alcohol or coffee. Sounds inherently healthy, right?
The lifespan of the average Caveman was about 30 years old. Most likely suffered from numerous severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Imagine having a goiter the size of a baseball all your life from not getting enough iodine, provided to us today through iodized salt. That’s only one of many examples…
Fortification and enrichment technologies have enabled us to get the nutrients we need without even thinking about it. If you don’t compensate for the nutrients present in food groups like grains and dairy then you end up falling short of a nutritionally balanced diet, which has proven long-term health consequences. An 8-ounce glass of milk contains approximately 300 mg of calcium that your body easily absorbs. It’s almost practically impossible to get enough calcium in your diet without dairy (or a dairy substitute) unless you’re taking a dietary supplement. Calcium from veges just doesn’t cut it in the long run, and lack of this essential nutrient has been known to cause osteoporosis later in life.
Everyone needs carbs to be healthy! You might think they’re evil… and your likely right, since most of us don’t consume foods like white bread and sugar in moderation. The bottom line is that grains, particularly whole grains, provide a ton of vitamins and minerals to the diet. Completely cutting out carbs and/or grains completely will make you cranky and weak. Do yourself a favor and focus on consuming whole grain products!
The biggest mistake you can make on the Paleo Diet is eating all the “Paleo-Approved” treats like cookies with almond flour and honey. Even though a Paleo cookie has different ingredients its likely to still be high in calories, fat and sugar.
Humans have evolved over the last 10,000 years from a metabolism standpoint. Our national Dietary Guidelines for Americans are based on rigorous scientific research. If you’re on the Paleo Diet or thinking about starting, visit www.choosemyplate.gov and choose a healthy modern dietary pattern that’s suitable for you.