Diet & Weight loss

The Paleolithic diet (Paleo diet ): benefits and risks of eating like a Cro-Magnon

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The Paleolithic diet (Paleo diet ), also known as the Caveman Diet, is a diet modeled on the eating habits of humans or rather our Homo habilis ancestor of the Paleolithic age that began about 2.5 years ago. millions of years!

Although the Paleo diet seems new, it was revived several decades ago. It was launched around the 1970s by the American gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin with the idea that our ancestors of the Paleolithic could teach modern men how to eat healthily.

The diet was popularized by Dr. S. Boyd Eaton, a professor of anthropology at Emory University who thought that the human body had been built to follow such a diet.

The theory of the paleo diet  is that technological advances have too quickly transform agriculture for the human body can adapt  . The Paleo diet focuses on this principle: what a caveman did not eat, modern man should not either. This includes all processed foods , all foods that have been harvested through the use of livestock or agriculture :
  • Cereals : wheat, rice, corn, pasta, bread, semolina, bulgur …
  • Legumes : lentils, beans, peanuts, peas.
  • Sugars and starchy foods : potatoes, peas, quinoa, chocolate.
  • Oils : sunflower, peanut, corn, rapeseed.
  • All dairy products

All fruits and vegetables must be organic. Moreover, the salt must be removed because the man of that time did not salt his food.

This is for the beautiful theory, but this is a problem for many scientists.

Anthropologists familiar with the behavior of our Paleolithic ancestors claim that these early men were not particularly used to eating.

What did the caveman eat?

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“Basically, they ate anything and especially when they could anytime,” said Neal Malik, an assistant professor at the School of Arts and Sciences at Bastyr University.

“They were not deliberately following a diet as we imagine but they just ate all that was available to ensure survival. In fact, some scientists have gone so far as to say that the first humans had a diet similar to pigs.
Professor Neal Malik also pointed out that the first humans were already located all around the globe during this time and so they did not eat all the same foods . Some have eaten beans, others have been able to eat cereals.

Dr. Loren Cordain, “father” of the modern Paleo Diet movement, says the diet can help reduce rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. based on data showing that early humans did not suffer from these diseases.

But here’s why this statement is flawed: these diseases tend to begin when we reach a certain age. The first humans lived on average until the venerable age of 28, so it is not surprising that very few died because they had clogged arteries. Let’s not forget that our ancestors were also much more active than we are today , which of course makes a big difference with the sedentary people we are.

The real food of Neanderthals

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A major scientific study on the analysis of dental plaque of Paleolithic men confirms that (despite the beliefs of some gurus) cereals, tubers and sweet fruits were staples in the diet of early men. The study published in the renowned journal Nature April 20, 2017  goes further by describing the diet of men paleo according to the continents.

Africa : Given the size of the continent, there was regional variability in what you would have found, says paleobiologist Amanda Henry, of the Faculty of Archeology at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, but wild yams, melons and berries were eaten throughout most of the region. Endurance athletes who try to have a paleo diet should therefore particularly consume yams, because their energy needs often require a large amount of carbohydrates to optimize their performance.

Middle East : heavily dependent on wild wheat, barley and wild oats, especially around the Israeli zone. No one was on a low-carb diet on this side of the globe, says Peter Ungar, professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas and author of the book  Evolution Bite: A Tale of Teeth, Diet, and Diet. human origins .

South America : Hundreds of years ago, humans were unconsciously left in their diet to eat sweet foods. Palm stems and palm fruit were popular foods in this part of the world.

North America : Most of the products eaten in this vast territory can no longer be found nowadays: an edible version of sunflower, seeds rich in oils from a variety of long squash and a cousin of barley. These foods have completed the hunted meat, including human flesh  .

Europe : The foods available in this region reflect the “most traditional Paleolithic diet” with little grain. According to a study published in the journal Nature, the diet of men in this region also contained mushrooms, pine nuts, tree bark, moss and wild grasses.

Asia : The Paleolithic diet is traditionally associated with a low carbohydrate diet, but in this region people regularly ate millet and yams. People feasted here too with acorns, beans, and a few wild herbs.

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Benefits of the paleo diet

The first benefit of the paleo diet is to stop the “bad” foods. This diet no longer allows you to eat all the sweets and processed foods.

It includes lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fats. This can help lower blood pressure and help regulate blood sugar levels. The University of Lund found in a study  that a Paleolithic diet has improved glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-type diet for the 29 individuals monitored with ischemic heart disease.

Another study  , conducted by the Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden, found that eating as hunter-gatherers could possibly prevent cardiovascular disease.

Risks of the paleo diet

Like many diets, the risk that comes with the Paleo diet is to have an unbalanced diet. For example, the Paleo diet requires eating a large amount of meat. This can lead to excessive consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol . “Those who follow this diet model do not account for differences in the fatty acid composition of today’s animal meat compared to the composition of 100,000 years ago,” said Neal Malik.

“At the time of our ancestors, the fatty acid composition of animals in the wild was made up of more omega-3s that actually improve our health. However, because of differences in the way we feed and raise our cattle today, meat tends to contain more saturated fats. ”

People who eat Paleo also have a lack of fiber, vitamins and minerals that come from a diet derived from good seeds and dairy products. Some nutrients are inadequate in someone who follows a paleo diet: iron , calcium, zinc , folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12 and phosphorus.

The Association of Dieticians in the UK has ranked the Paleo diet as one of the five worst celebrity diets to avoid in 2015, because removing such a large amount of food, without proper substitution, can compromise health.


Read also:

The Complete Guide to the Ketogenic Diet

Complete guide to understand the 5: 2 diet

Complete guide on the Dukan diet to lose weight

The benefits of the Mediterranean diet

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