About The Paleo Diet
Paleo is a prefix meaning prehistoric or ancient. The Paleo Diet refers to the foods our prehistoric ancestors ate in the Paleolithic Era that began about 2.6 million years ago and ended roughly 10,000 years ago.
Ten thousand years is a long time ago. But 10,000 years is a minuscule amount of time in relation to evolutionary life on Earth.
Simple life on earth began about 3.5 billion years ago. It took nature billions of years to evolve from simple (creepy looking) life forms all the way to us, Homo sapiens. That's a great deal of time, and one hell of a lot of natural selection and evolution.
Think about it, 3.5 BILLION years! Remember, one billion is a THOUSAND MILLION years.
3.5 Billion years is 3,500,000,000 years.
Yikes, no matter how much I try to picture 3.5 BILLION years, I can't. Can you? Help me out if you can.
Comparing 3,500,000,000 years to 10,000, and 10,000 years ago seems like a few minutes ago, because it is.
- For 95% of human evolution we humans were on the Paleo Diet.
- Just 10,000 years ago there wasn't a single person who was not on the Plaeo Diet.
Evolutionary changes take a very long time. Ten thousand years, in evolutionary time is very little. Our organs have gone through little evolutionary changes in the past 10,000 years.
It took billions of years of evolution to make our organs. But "lately" these organs are being forced to process foods they were not built for. And, they are not taking it well, nor are they adapting. Quite the opposite, they're in full revolt, protecting themselves from foreign invaders. The evidence is all around us. You can see it everywhere you look.
What is Normal?
We are accustom to certain human conditions. We "accept" them as an unfortunate, but a normal part of life. Many people think diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and strokes have been around forever. They haven't.
During the Paleolithic Era our ancestors survived on foods they could hunt or gather. They ate meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Over millions of years of evolution and natural selection their bodies (and organs) slowly developed and adapted to these foods. But, they didn't just survive on these foods, they thrived. They got all the carbs they needed on their "whole food' diet.
A Common Misconception I Hear All the Time
But Jack, they didn't live long lives.
It is commonly believed these early hunter-gathers were small and they all died young. That's not true. The Paleolithic Era offered many ways for a caveman to die, and many did die young, but not all of them. If both cunning and lucky a person could live into their 60s, 70, or beyond. The cavemen were tall, muscular and tough. If they were around today they could easily kick our sorry asses.
It was only after the Paleolithic Era people got shorter, lost bone density, developed cavities, and became susceptible to countless diseases and lifespans became shorter.
Paleoanthropologists - scientists who study human evolution - who've studied the remains of these ancient people say the cavemen were remarkably healthy. They were virtually free of cavities and bone malformations that are common with malnutrition. They showed little to no signs of iron, calcium, or protein deficiency. They were not affected by diseases such as diabetes or coronary heart disease. Paleoanthropologists have yet to discover an obese caveman.
I want to assure you, I didn't make this stuff up. It is all well documented by paleoanthologists who have studied the evolution of the human body. Here's one great book.
THE STORY OF THE HUMAN BODY: Evolution, Health and Disease by Daniel E. Lieberman. Lieberman is a paleoanthropologist at Harvard University, where he is the Edwin M Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences, and chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. Lieberman is best known for his research on the evolution of the human body. (4.7 stars on 312 reviews)
How Our Healthy Way of Life Went Wrong
We've been evolving for 2,000,000 years
We've been farming for 10,000 years
Our cultural evolution far outpaced our biological evolution. About 10,000 years ago our food sources began to changed at a pace so fast our organs were not able to keep up (adapt) to the changes. That was very bad news thousands of years ago, and it continues to be very bad news for us today because,
Our genetics are virtually identical to those of our early human ancestors from more than 120,000 years ago.
Quoted from page 38 of THE PALEO SOULUTION: The Original Human Diet, by Robb Wolf. A New York Times #1 Best Seller. Wolf's book has a 4.5 star rating with 1,247 reviews on Amazon.
The Two Revolutions That Outpaced Our Organs Evolution
#1 The Agricultural Revolution
The agricultural revolution is marked by a progression of behavioral and cultural changes including the use of wild and domestic crops and of domesticated animals.
The agricultural revolution was the single most important "event" in all human history. The new food sources were critical to the advancement of our species.
Over millions of years of evolution our bodies and vital organs had slowly evolved and adapted to a simple nutritional diet of meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. In other words, our vital organs were designed by nature to eat these foods. Everything was going quite nicely for a million years or so. Then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, (in evolutionary time) everything changed. Our bodies began processing new foods that were foreign irritants to our organs. A few examples:
All pretty good stuff, huh? I know, I love all those foods too. I'll eat them again (in moderation) someday. But not while I'm losing forty pounds and getting healthy. Does that mean I'm not committed to Paleo? No. Here's a direct quote from Robb Wolf, a leading advocate of a Paleo lifestyle.
Paleo is not a religion and there is room for treats and non-paleo fare – just not in excess.
Many of the foods sited above are full of wonderful nutrients. So, it's not that these foods are bad, per se, it's just that our body's organs were not built to process so many carbohydrates. Our bodies had adapted to getting all the carbs it needed from the carbohydrates found in meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts.
The problem is, our bodies only burn what it can in real time and stores the excess (unused) carbs and sugar) into fat.
Consuming too many carbs can cause your blood glucose level to rise above unhealthy levels resulting in diabetes and many other health problems. You really don't want all that bad blood (sugar) running through your brain, and every other vital organ. Don't take my word for it. Read Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, MD. (4.6 Stars on 4,191 Reviews)
But Carbohydrates Give Us Energy, Right?
Yes, they do. Hundreds of thousands of years ago our bodies were programmed to store away excess carbs we eat and turn them into fat. That fat reserve could later be used to nourish us and give us energy when food became scarce.
If you're active (like a caveman) you use the stored fat when food becomes scarce. But if you are not active, and food does not become scarce, that fat just hangs on waiting to be used. If you are fat you'll find your stored up "energy" in your ass, hips, thighs, arms, face and belly.
Things have changed a bit since the Paleolithic era. Scarcity of food is not the problem anymore. It's the abundance of food. And, for those of us lucky enough to live in the civilized world, it's just an arms length away.
Fat in Your Blood Stream
Some fat gets in our blood stream. That's a good thing. But if our brains, heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, stomach, intestines and other organs are processing too much fat they strain under the load. If those organs strain for long periods of time they feel under attack and react accordingly. The body's defensive reaction is to fight off these "irritants" with inflammation.
Inflammation is normally a good thing. Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury and irritants. But when the irritants don't let up our immune system can spiral out of control and increase the risk for disease. Inflammation is the fertile ground diseases like to inhabit. They plant their seeds and grow their deadly crop in our fertile fat.
Think about it. What do heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, stroke and cancer have in common?
Scientists have linked each of these diseases to fat and chronic inflammation.
But wait, there's more...and it get's worse. A lot worse.
#2 The Industrial (Food Product) Revolution
The industrial food product revolution has far graver consequences to our organs than the agricultural revolution.
In the last millisecond of evolutionary time things have gotten far worse for our poor organs. We are forcing them to process the fruits of modern technology. Our organs protest, but we shove it down their throats anyway. We pay little attention to their pleadings because the food taste so damn good. We know some of this stuff is bad for us but we ignore that fact because there are no immediate consequences.
Below are a few "foods" we are making our organs process for the first time in 2,000,000 years of evolution:
During food processing most of the grains are converted to starches. That means more sugar (carbs) in concentrated form overloading our organs. Many of the fats are concentrated too, but worst of all, hydrogenated, which creates trans-fatty acids with very adverse effects on health.
The Evidence is Everyplace We Look
- More than half of Americans are overweight.
- Forty million adults are clinically obese.
- Twelve million children are clinically obese.
- Cancer is rampant and on the rise.
- Hypertension is rampant and on the rise.
- Heart disease is rampant and on the rise.
The Leading Cause of Death
According to the Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC) the leading causes of death are #1 Heart Disease, #2 Cancer, #5 Stroke #7 Diabetes. There is no doubt our modern day food technology played a significant roll in many of these deaths.
For proof the food industry is complicit in today's health problems read the #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
SALT SUGAR FAT: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss. (4.6 out of 5 stars with 947 reviews - Amazon)
Another great book is, GRAIN BRAIN: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers (4.6 out of 5 stats with 3,940 reviews - Amazon)
A quote from the publisher, Little, Brown and Company:
Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that's been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more.
The above books don't even mention the Paleo diet. But after reading them you'll appreciate the Paleo diet.
Today's Paleolithic Diet
Today's Paleo Diet mimics the kinds of foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors survived on, and thrived on prior to the Agricultural Revolution.
- It's the foods that made our bodies.
- It's the food that's consistent with our genetic makeup.
- It's the foods our organs adapted to.
- It's the foods we were designed to eat.
- It's the foods that put the body in a healthy state.
- It's the foods that make you feel great.
- It's the foods that helps prevent (or reverse) chronic diseases.
In a Nutshell
Foods to Eat
Foods to Avoid
Every Aspect of Your Health Improves
Lower Blood Pressure
Lower Blood Sugar
Improve Blood Chemistry
Feel Good About Yourself
The Paleo Diet is not (Just) a Temporary Weight-loss Program
In Fact, Paleo Is Not Really a "Diet" At All
It’s really a return to the type of eating your body naturally craves and was designed for. And that’s why it works. It’s based on how we humans evolved for literally millions of years.
- It's a way of eating that will burn fat and build muscle.
- It's a way to wellness and longevity.
- It's a way to normalize your weight
- It's a way to feel good.
- It's a way to feel good about yourself.
I like the Paleo Diet because it is simple and has a huge variety of good things to eat. My appetite is a fraction of what it used to be. But the best part of the Paleo Diet is it improves every aspect of my physical and mental health.
#1 If there was a medicine that diminished your food cravings, helped you lose weight naturally, lowered your blood pressure, gave you energy, improved your mood, improved your sex life, and helped protect you from disease...would you take it?
#2 How much would you pay for it?