The paleo diet
There are races of people who are all slim, who are stronger and faster than us. They all have straight teeth and perfect eyesight. Arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, schizophrenia and cancer are absolute rarities for them. These people are the last 84 tribes of hunter-gatherers in the world. They share a secret that is over 2 million years old. Their secret is their diet- a diet that has changed little from that of the first humans 2 million years ago, and their predecessors up to 7 million years ago. Theirs is the diet that man evolved on, the diet that is coded for in our genes. It has some major differences to the diet of “civilization”. You are in for a few big surprises.
The diet is usually referred to as the “Paleolithic Diet” referring to the Paleolithic or Stone Age era. It is also referred to as the “Stone Age Diet”, “Cave Man Diet” or the “Hunter-Gatherer Diet”. More romantic souls like to think of it as the diet that was eaten in the “Garden of Eden” and they are correct in thinking so.
For millions of years, humans and their relatives have eaten meat, fish, fowl and the leaves, roots and fruits of many plants. One big obstacle to getting more calories from the environment is the fact that many plants are inedible. Grains, beans and potatoes are full of energy but all are inedible in the raw state as they contain many toxins. There is no doubt about that- please don’t try to eat them raw, they can make you very sick.
Around 10,000 years ago, an enormous breakthrough was made- a breakthrough that was to change the course of history, and our diet, forever. This breakthrough was the discovery that cooking these foods made them edible- the heat destroyed enough toxins to render them edible. Grains include wheat, corn, barley, rice, sorghum, millet and oats. Grain based foods also include products such as flour, bread, noodles and pasta. These foods entered the menu of New Stone Age (Neolithic) man, and Paleolithic diet buffs often refer to them as Neolithic foods.
The cooking of grains, beans and potatoes had an enormous effect on our food intake- perhaps doubling the number of calories that we could obtain from the plant foods in our environment. Other advantages were soon obvious with these foods:
· they could store for long periods (refrigeration of course being unavailable in those days)
· they were dense in calories- ie a small weight contains a lot of calories, enabling easy transport
· the food was also the seed of the plant- later allowing ready farming of the species
The essentials of the Paleolithic Diet are:
Eat none of the following:
· Grains- including bread, pasta, noodles
· Beans- including string beans, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts, snow-peas and peas
· Dairy products
Eat the following:
· Meat, chicken and fish
· Vegetables (especially root vegetables, but definitely not including potatoes or sweet potatoes)
· Nuts, eg. walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia, almond. Do not eat peanuts (a bean) or cashews (a family of their own)
· Berries- strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc.
Try to increase your intake of:
· Root vegetables- carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, Swedes
· Organ meats- liver and kidneys (I accept that many people find these unpalatable and won’t eat them)
Expect some minor tuning problems- don’t worry, you can deal with them:
· It will take some time for your body to adjust to the changes after all these years. There is a huge surge in your vitamin intake. There is a huge decrease in your toxin intake.