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What we can learn from the Paleo diet

Even with all the advancements in food science and nutrition over the last 10 years, eating like a caveman is hailed by some as the ideal diet. The Paleo diet is a plan based on eating plants and animals similar to what cavemen are presumed to have eaten around 10,000 years ago.

Supporters of the Paleo diet believe it is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, help with weight loss, promote optimum health and athletic performance. The Paleo diet includes lean meat, offal, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, potatoes and processed oils are excluded from the diet.

According to Paleo supporters, our bodies have not adapted to eating heavily processed and refined foods or indeed, foods that weren’t available 10,000 years ago. However, the idea that we were all better off before civilization seems a little fat fetched, and certainly our knowledge of this time period is far from perfect. This is even before you discuss natural evolution and the fact our genes have evolved so much that we can now digest milk and we have become more efficient at breaking down starch.

Unsurprisingly, the Paleo diet is difficult to stick to given the limited availability of wild meat, grass fed animals and organic produce in supermarkets and may result in potential nutrient inadequacies due to the elimination of certain food groups. However, we would absolutely acknowledge that a diet based on whole foods, lean meats, fruits, vegetables and less sugar, salt, trans fat and processed foods is advisable and without doubt, better for your health. However, we also believe that including low-fat dairy, legumes, and whole grains when appropriate is important in supporting a healthy, well-balanced diet.

In reality, the general concept of the Paleo diet is a nice one when you think of eating quality protein, fruit and vegetables with a high degree of frequency. Similarly, reducing processed foods with a low nutritional value is again recommended. However, the notion that the Paleo diet (or any diet for the matter) represents an ideal is largely misplaced and typically masks the importance of making better food choices more often.