The Paleolithic diet, also known as the caveman diet or the warrior diet is a diet that is based on eating wild animals and plants much like the caveman did back in the Paleolithic era (10,000 years ago). So why go back to Stone Age and eat that way? The basis is this; our bodies are genetically programmed to eat like our ancestors. It is a very healthy diet, so much so that supporters have published books and papers and created may sites to promote it. Proponents of the diet claims that it is a diet that suit us best providing the proper balance of nutrients to promote health and decrease chronic diseases including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Varicose veins
- Autoimmune diseases
- Myopia (nearsightedness), macular degeneration, glaucoma
- Gastric reflux
- And many more!
The Paleolithic diet is based on eating food that can be hunted so that includes eating fresh meats (preferably grass-fed or free-ranging game meat, pork, lamb, beef, and poultry), nuts, fish, fresh fruits, seafood, vegetables, seeds, and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed). All other food products such as cereal grains, legumes, processed foods, refined sugar (you can satisfy your sweet tooth with raw honey), and dairy can be overlooked as they were not part of our ancestral menu.
This diet may seem hopeless to mimic because most modern plant food is refined rather than wild and wild game is not readily available. At best, you can consume an altered version of the original diet that’s gluten-free and includes lean meat, organ meats, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and nuts.
Some characteristics of the Paleolithic Diet:
Greater intake of, plant phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants-Whole grains foods do not contain any vitamins B12, vitamin A, or vitamin C and is not a good substitute for veggies, lean meats and fruits. Besides, many of the minerals and B vitamins that whole grains do contain are not easily absorbed by the body.
Packed with protein – Protein makes up about 14% of the calories in our diet today which is lower than the average 20-37% found in hunter-gatherer diets. Seafood, meat and other animal products represented the main foods of Paleolithic diets.
More potassium and less sodium – Foods that are fresh and unprocessed only contains about 6-11 times more potassium than sodium and because we have a Stone Age body, we are adapted to this ratio. Potassium is crucial for organs like the heart and kidneys to work properly. Low potassium is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke—the same problems associated with high sodium intake. The average diet today consumes twice the amount of sodium as potassium.
Increased amount of fiber – To ensure good health, you need about 20-25 grams of fiber daily for women and 30-38 grams for men and whole grains isn’t the place to find them. Non-starchy vegetables such as carrots, celery, eggplants, etc contains about 9 times more fiber than whole grains and 32 times more than refined grains. Even fruits contain twice as much fiber as whole grains and seven times more than refined grains.
Balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 and high fat intake that are dominated by monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – Contrary to popular beliefs, it’s not the total amount of fat in your diet that shoots up your blood cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer; it’s the type of fats. By cutting out the trans-fats and the polyunsaturated fats in your diet and increasing the healthful omega-3 and monounsaturated fats, your chance of developing cardiovascular disease are slim to none. Recent studies have proven that saturated fats have little or no adverse effects upon cardiovascular disease risk.
It’s always good to have a diet that includes whole, unprocessed foods so that the nutrients from these foods are easily absorbed by your body. On a side note, if the Paleo or Caveman diet appeals to you, be sure to supplement the plan with calcium and vitamin D as you wouldn’t be getting much of them while being on the diet.
Here is a list of Paleolithic diet recipes to get you on your way: