Monday, September 9, 2013

Why should you go for the paleo diet?

There are many health benefits associated with adopting the eating and lifestyle practices of our cave man ancestors, not least the reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease and weight related health concerns such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Taking steps to incorporate the ancient ways of Paleolithic times into modern life can bring the following:

 - Increased energy – sugar induced "highs" and "lows" are replaced with an all-day energy balance. Fruits and vegetables provide a slow and steady release of energy which keeps you feeling physically and mentally "ready for action" throughout the day.

- Improved mental clarity and a more positive outlook on life in general.

- More restful sleep – also helping to boost your energy levels and your mood.

- Clearer skin – an improvement in overall complexion and often complete eradication of on-going skin conditions such as acne.

- Reduced allergies – symptoms of conditions such as eczema and asthma can be greatly alleviated.

- Reduced body fat stores – by increasing your fat intake and decreasing your carbohydrate intake, your body learns to burn fat for fuel. A diet high in carbs leads to raised insulin levels, which in turn causes your body to store fat. When fat is being stored, your body "craves" more carbs for fuel ... but more carbs leads to more fat storage! An added bonus of eating paleo diet foods is that as your body adapts to burning fat as its main fuel source, your workouts become much more efficient and long cardio sessions are no longer needed to help you get the lean, non-flabby physique you want.

Positive Benefits of the paleo diet

Removing processed foods from your daily diet removes a plethora of unnatural added ingredients such as preservatives, artificial colors and stabilizers that are scientifically linked to poor health concerns and food allergies. Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has a true wheat allergy but it is thought that as many as 20 percent suffer from some form of wheat intolerance, highlighting the Paleo principle that our bodies are not genetically geared to eat and digest grains. The toxic properties of wheat, barley and rye grains are linked to the worldwide increase in obesity and the prevalence of diet related conditions such as gluten sensitivity, with National Institutes of Health statistics estimating that around 10 percent of the global population is currently suffering symptoms and that numbers are steadily growing.

Cave Man Diet Proof Positive!

There are a huge number of inspirational transformation stories all over the internet, including many that tell of "miraculous" changes in physical and mental health as a result of switching to a Paleo based diet.

Asthma – Shannon, a U.S. based personal trainer and CrossFit instructor has commented on many Paleo related forums that she has seen remarkable improvements in her clients who choose to switch to a Paleo lifestyle, not only in terms of fat loss but also in terms of athletic performance. Many of her clients have initially relied heavily on inhalers to help them cope with the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma but after only a few weeks of Paleo eating, they are able to participate in exercise sessions without using an inhaler at all.

Acne – Penny from the U.K. is one of many Paleo "success stories" in that her 35 year battle with acne finally ended after only a few weeks of following a Paleo-based diet. Coping with acne at any stage of life can be emotionally challenging and for many teenagers it leads to long-term psychological as well as physical scarring. The realization that a simple dietary change was all that was needed to turn her life around permanently and provide the added bonus of effortlessly shedding a few unwanted pounds has given her a new lease of life!

Weight Loss – Katie from Chicago is just one of many thousands of successful "dieters" who report finding the transition to eating a Paleo-based diet so easy that it does not feel like a "diet" at all. The ease of the transition made staying on the Paleo diet a lifestyle choice for Katie that’s no longer about weight loss but all about looking great and feeling great – both internally and externally.

What is the Paleo diet or Paleolithic diet?

"The Paleo Diet as it has come to be known is simplicity itself. Limit your purchases at the supermarket to the outside aisles (produce, seafood, meat) and you are about 85 percent of the way there." – Dr Loren Cordain, founder of the Paleo Movement.

The popularly used term "Paleo" is an abbreviation of Paleolithic, referring to the Paleolithic Era of around 2.5 million years ago. The Paleo diet is therefore based on eating the foods that would have been available to our Paleolithic or "caveman" ancestors and avoiding all forms of modern foods that would have been unavailable to hunter-gatherers of that time. In a nutshell, it’s a healthy eating diet that focuses on eating good quality natural foods and cutting out unhealthy processed foods that have little or no nutritional value. The foods included in a Paleo diet are the ancient foods our bodies were designed to be able to digest easily while "on the move" and the foods avoided are those that only came into our diet as a result of modern-day farming practices.

However, it’s worth noting that there are many Paleo diet variations and there is no one definitive diet in terms of what should or should not be included. Our "caveman" ancestors survived on the foods that were readily available to them and availability was, of course, determined by location. It’s a common misconception that a Paleo diet is a low-carb diet, but while some hunter-gatherer groups would have lived on a diet of low-carb foods, other groups in different locations would have had easy access to high-carb foods such as coconuts, tubers and fish.

Where you live will inevitably influence your food choices when choosing to live a Paleo lifestyle. Sourcing good quality, locally grown produce is at the heart of any Paleo-based diet and eating the best produce available in your area in terms of both accessibility and affordability is an important element of adhering to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

A Paleo diet is generally higher in daily protein and fat intake and lower in carbohydrate intake than the current figures promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its current healthy eating guidelines. Acccording to the USDA, a balanced daily diet should consist of 60 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fats, and 10 percent protein, but a Paleo-based diet generally includes a higher percentage of protein and "healthy" fat (including saturated fats considered "unhealthy" by USDA standards) and therefore a lower percentage of carbohydrates. Paleo sources of protein are lean meats, preferably from grass-fed animals, and sources of "healthy" fats in the form of omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in fish. The USDA promotes whole grains and starchy foods such as bread, pasta and potatoes as the main sources of carbohydrates in a balanced diet but the main sources of carbohydrates in a Paleo diet are fruits and vegetables, ensuring you also consume a rich source of health-promoting micro-nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals.

By avoiding all processed and packaged foods, and by cutting grains and other modern farmed foods from your diet, you create a daily diet of foods that would be instantly recognizable as foods to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and that’s essentially what going "Primal" is all about. As Dr. Cordain, the founder of the Paleo diet says, it’s all about "eating the foods to which we are genetically adapted."