The Paleolithic Diet, caveman diet, stone-age diet, or simply Paleo diet is a dietary plan based on eating foods that are similar to what might have been eaten by cavemen in the Paleolithic era. This dates back to approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. A paleo diet takes the foods that were used by early humans prior to agriculture and applies it to modern-day foods. The core focus of the paleo diet is that humans are genetically apt to eat the foods that our ancestors consumed. This diet or lifestyle for some imitates the foods that every single human on earth consumed before the rise of agriculture and farming. The main point to keep in mind is that these foods that are part of the paleo diet are very high nutritionally. A paleo diet typically includes foods that are whole and from the earth. All foods that could be obtained from hunting and gathering back in the Paleolithic era are considered paleo friendly.
On the contrary, a paleo diet prohibits foods that were created after the agricultural revolution. These foods are common in the farming industry- grains, dairy products, legumes, sugar and salt because these food products can lead to an increase in weight and a higher chance of having health problems or disease.
Reasons to follow a paleo type diet or lifestyle may be for weight loss, weight maintenance, to obtain specific health benefits, for disease prevention, for alleviating a disease that may be improved by dietary measures, or for meal planning purposes.
The top food groups to focus on eating when following a paleo diet are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean meats- especially grass-fed animals or wild game
- Oils from fruits and nuts such as olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil.
- Fish- especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna
A paleo diet is rich in vegetables, fruits and nuts — all elements of a healthy diet. And the main difference that separates the paleo diet from other healthy diets is the absence of the foods listed below, which may be considered good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Certain foods are not allowed while following a paleo diet, or will be fully avoided for whose who choose to adopt the paleo lifestyle:
- Grains, such as wheat, oats, barley, spelt, gluten, corn
- Legumes such as beans, lentils, peanuts, peas, soybeans, tofu
- Dairy products
- Refined sugar found in most cookies, cakes, desserts and sweetened beverages
- Salt, which is found in most processed foods
- High processed foods in general are to be avoided, usually those found in packaging
Following a paleo diet may take time to adjust like any other dietary adjustments. The quickly seen health benefits that are reported may help with the adjustment when embarking on a paleo diet. The feelings of having more energy, losing weight and body fat, an improvement in blood work and appearance may bring an ease to a paleo diet as a lifestyle change.