Foods for Paleo Diet: Myths and Real Benefits

paleo diet

In 2013, in the United States (and in general, all over the world), there was a massive epidemic of passion about the foods for the paleo diet. Amazon sells over 20,000 (!) books related to this type of diet. Meanwhile, science brutally breaks the beautiful principle – eat what our cave ancestors ate.

amazon paleo books

What’s a Paleo Diet?

The paleo diet is a diet that eliminates common food allergens from the diet. This is primarily about gluten-containing wheat and milk lactose and casein. In addition, legumes are prohibited – they are also capable of disrupting the intestines.

In fact, the paleo diet means avoiding grains, bread, baked goods, any dairy products – and even peanuts and soybeans (they belong to legumes).

Paleo Diet Definition

Here is how paleo books describe this phenomenon: “The paleo diet is about giving up “modern” foods and switching to traditional foods. The name “paleo” refers to the Paleolithic period, which lasted 2.5 million years and ended 13 thousand years BC. Essentially, this diet puts an attempt to eat like a caveman.

The paleo diet is based on the fact that most of the food we are used to has appeared literally in the last hundred years. At the same time, scientific research confirms that a diet rich in refined carbohydrates disrupts the metabolism in general, and the brain in particular.

From a practical point of view, paleo is an effective diet for losing weight and maintaining stable body weight. Since such a diet involves avoiding grains (wheat, rye, oats, rice), paleo can be an example of a carbohydrate-free keto diet.

Paleo Benefits

going paleo

What is more, adherents of this diet admit that the advantage of going paleo is that it is suitable for people with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

“Often, it is the unsuitable food that becomes the cause of the exacerbation of such diseases. The body reacts to it with a sharp reaction of the immune system. The Autoimmune Protocol, called AIP for short, introduces diet and lifestyle choices to optimize gastrointestinal function. Recall that the intestine is the main organ of the immune system. Unlike the regular paleo diet, there is a more restrictive list of allowed foods.”

Guys Behind the Hype

Most of the internet searches this year for diets related to the paleo diet.

Moreover, paleo fans argue that our bodies did not evolve to wallow all day on the couch, staring at the TV and eating chips with ice cream. They evolved to hunt for prey, pick fruits and vegetables and, in general, lead an active life in every possible way. Going further, paleo-diets conclude that our health would be increased if we lived and ate like our primitive ancestors.

This “evolutionary mismatch theory” first came to light thanks to the physician S. Boyd Eaton and the anthropologist Melvin Conner in 1985. Both scientists at the time worked at Emory University in Atlanta (USA). They said that our genes are not catching up with the changes and development of the human environment and nutrition.

If genes have remained in the same state for the last 50,000 years, then our way of life has been greatly transformed during the 10,000 years when we actively mastered farming. And Eaton and Conner attributed all the main ailments of the 20th century – diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer – to this inhibition of genetic evolution in a relatively new diet, and concluded that we need to move more, eat like hunter-gatherer ancestors, and then we will be slim happy and healthy.

Foods for Paleo Diet Listing

paleo diet food list

The Paleo diet, or as it is also called, the Stone Age diet, is based on the ideas of these guys and has become very popular in recent years. Foods for the paleo diet include game, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts and excludes grains, dairy products, legumes, oils, refined sugar, and salt.

The paleo diet allows you to eat any meat, eggs, and seafood – beef, pork, lamb, chicken, sea and river fish, shrimp, and so on. It is only required to refuse semi-finished meat products (sausages, pates, crab sticks, and so on).

Note that paleo experts disagree on whether fish can be eaten. Only fish of ordinary catch is allowed – but not salmon raised on fish farms. In this case, the fish could eat corn, which is prohibited on the paleo.

Foods for paleo diet – what you can eat:

  • fish, poultry, meat
  • eggs
  • vegetables
  • fruits and dried fruits
  • mushrooms and nuts

Some elements of the Paleo diet – more exercise, less sugar, and fast-carb grains – are good for your health. But others — avoiding “good” grains, legumes, dairy products, and healthy vegetable oils — are not all that good and run counter to rational reasoning.

Let’s mention some of them.

Science Debunking Paleo Myths

Foods for Paleo Diet

Marlene Zach, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota who wrote a book debunking the paleo diet, showed that the idea that 50,000 years ago everything was so harmonious and beautiful between the genes of our ancestors and their way of life is far from the truth. Our ancestors were not the crown of evolution and absolutely adapted to their way of life, and since then we have not stood still and have adapted to our way of life and nutrition.

For example, some people have copies of genes that help us digest the starch that grains “supply” to us. The ability to digest milk in adults (lactose tolerance) has also emerged independently in several populations.

Another vulnerability to criticism of the paleo diet is that we don’t know for sure exactly how our ancestors ate. They definitely didn’t eat the animals and plants that we eat now, because they were all bred and raised through artificial breeding. However, what exactly they ate is not very clear, because many of the wild ancestors of modern plants simply did not survive, being displaced by their later specially bred descendants.

And, finally, it is completely unclear that our ancestors were much healthier than us – no scientific research on health at the time, as you understand, could be carried out, and statistics were not collected. On top of that their average life expectancy is also not inspiring.

And, although the original idea of evolutionary inconsistency remained the hobbyhorse of its authors, they nevertheless revised their views in the light of recent research. Eaton and Conner have now included low-fat dairy and whole grains in their recommendations.

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