Though the Paleo Diet (Cavemen Diet) has caught on with many of the health enthusiasts, yet is it really as effective as claimed?
In times when most trendy healthy diets fall flat, the paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet proves to be more than just a passing fad. The paleo diet has become the favourite diet of celebrities and sports enthusiasts in losing weight and maintaining health without keeping track of calorie counting.
But, why has the caveman diet become so popular among health enthusiasts?
That takes us to the moot question: what is the caveman diet?
What Is The Caveman Diet?
The caveman diet, also referred to as the Stone Age Diet, Hunter Gatherer Diet or Paleo Diet, is a dietary plan designed to mimic what early humans ate thousands of years ago. The food items resemble the choices our early ancestors would have had long before the dawn of farming.
It typically includes foods that already exist in nature, such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. These foods could be obtained by hunting and gathering.
But with the advent of farming some 10,000 years ago, dairy products, legumes, and grains entered our daily diet. While these were easy to cook and digest, some of the food items can lead to inflammation.
Moreover, today, our intake of processed foods has now become our daily staples.
Loren Cordain, founder of the paleo diet movement said that in order to stay healthy by following the paleo diet, one will have to do exercise on regular bases and follow a strict diet on the foods which you can either hunt or gather from forest or wild life.
Why The Paleo Diet?
There is no denying that farming has had a significant impact on humanity as a whole. It allowed our ancestors to establish early settlements with a steady supply of food to keep themselves safe from predators.
As they developed more advanced tools and knowledge on farming, these early settlements eventually evolved into the modern civilizations of today.
As per a study, some believes that modern farming may not be suitable for the metabolism of the human body. Their reasoning is that the human body is not genetically well-equipped yet to efficiently absorb nutrients from foods produced by modern farming practices.
Modern food production has also made us lead a more sedentary lifestyle as we no longer have to hunt and gather to find something to eat.
This idea is often known as the discordance hypothesis.
The caveman diet, thus, seeks to reintroduce whole foods into our modern eating habits.
The proponents of this diet believe that with the fairly late and rapid change in human diet – away from thousands of years of hunting and gathering – it has become much easier for us to accumulate fat in our body.
Such a lifestyle change in modern society is often associated with the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other heart diseases.
The Basics of The Caveman Diet
The paleolithic diet or the caveman diet works on the principle of permitted food items. The rest of the food items have to be eliminated from your diet plan. Overall, the diet is high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
Moderate healthy fats are permitted while processed food items and refined sugars have to be eliminated from your diet plan.
There might be many questions arising in your mind related to caveman diet. Well, you will get all your questions answered in this article so keep reading.
What To Include In The Caveman Diet Plan?
- Fish containing iron, omega-3, and proteins, such as salmon and tuna.
- White meat, such as poultry products and veal.
- Red meat, such as beef and lamb, albeit in moderation.
- Fruits such as apple, banana, berries and green vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, etc are preferably ones that are rich in fibres.
- Varieties of nuts and seeds, including peanuts, walnuts, flaxseeds, among others.
- Herbs and spices, such as turmeric, nutmeg, and so on.
- Foods with high proteins, healthy fats, and oils like avocados and eggs.
- Natural sweeteners in moderation, such as blackstrap molasses and honey.
- Very low processed oils which are only extracted from plants like, olive oil, coconut oil.
Things To Avoid In The Caveman Diet Plan
By now having known all the foods that you’re allowed to eat in a caveman diet, here are the foods that you must avoid if you are following the paleo diet.
- Processed foods and drinks with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, such as soft drinks, biscuits, and ice cream.
- Grains like rice and wheat and their products like breads and pasta.
- Legumes, such as beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, and so on.
- Dairy products, such as milk, whey, cream, butter, yogurt, and cheese.
- Some vegetable oils rich in polyunsaturated fats like soybean oil, sunflower oil, and corn oil.
- Trans fats found in margarine and other processed fat products.
- Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, cyclamates, saccharin.
Weight Loss And Other Health Benefits of The Caveman Diet
The caveman diet is often regarded as the most effective method of losing weight without counting calories as it is rich in proteins.
In fact, it majorly improves your health – from lowering blood pressure and controlling blood sugar to reining in appetite – as you become less reliant on foods with processed chemicals.
You have to learn the fact that this diet works wonders in preventing and relieving inflammation along with other digestive problems, like constipation and bloating, as it removes a significant amount of foods that can cause such problems.
For more effective results, complement the diet with 40–50 minutes of rigorous exercise.
Note: Paleo Diet is not a short term process. So in order to get all the health benefits of paleo diet then you should follow it for long term.
You should also read about Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan.
What Are The Risks of A Prolonged Paleo Diet?
Researchers have many recommendations regarding the paleo diet and some of them are given below.
There are several caveats that you need to pay close attention to on taking a prolonged paleo diet. Getting well-balanced nutrients is particularly tricky when you’re running on an extended caveman diet as you restrict yourself to the intake of certain foods.
Whole grain is the best source of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrient.
A legume is also considered as a great source of vitamins and fiber.
Dairy products also have to be eliminated and they are a good source of protein and calcium.
The latter 3 are generally more affordable and accessible than wild animals, grass fed animals and nuts. For some people, a pure caveman diet may be too expensive.
Besides, the overconsumption of saturated fat and protein – typically from red meat – in a paleo diet increases the risk of kidney, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
Since it limits the consumption of dairy products, the caveman diet can also put you at risk for deficiencies in vitamin D and calcium – two nutrients that are critical to bone health.
To balance your caveman diet, especially if you’re aiming for the long term, you need to include fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel, in your daily meals.
Apart from being rich in healthy fat and proteins, these types of fish are also high in vitamin D. For more varieties, soy products, such as tofu, tempeh, and soy-based yogurt, can also be great additions of vitamin D to your daily food intake.
Thus, a right balance must be struck between the caveman diet and other food items like whole grains, legumes, and dairy products. These have been added to our diets over thousands of years of farming. Moderate amount of exercise and healthy portion control can help you keep healthy and fit.
This article does not constitute medical advice. It is for general information purposes. Please consult a physician before starting a paleo diet plan.
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