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    Monday
    Dec072009

    The Paleolithic Diet

    I caught wind a few days ago of a fairly current development in the field of nutrition and wellness - the Paleolithic Diet.  While I'm not normally the first guy to jump on the bandwagon of the newest and latest trend in nutrition, I have to admit that I've become a bit intrigued by the information I've read on the subject of Paleo diets so far.

    The basic premise of the diet is simple - we shouldeat like our very ancient ancestors ate before the agricultural revolution came along.  Paleo eating consists of pre-agricultural foods such as eggs, wild game, fish, tree nuts, leafy green veggies, fruits, berries, members of the squash family (any squash, zucchini, and cucumbers), and mushrooms.  By eating the 'approved' foods, we eliminate things like processed grains, sugar, all dairy products, tubers (potatoes), and a whole bunch of refined junk.

    Now, let me go on record before the fact as saying that I'm not calling my father in law a prehistoric man, but he's a great example of what a pseudo-paleo diet follower looks like.  For a guy in his mid-sixties, he's in pretty good physical shape despite a long-enduring ankle injury that prevents him from doing any sort of cardiovascular exercise.  His protein intake consists primarily of forest-killed deer (in season, of course) and fresh-caught fish.  He grows his own vegetables every spring and has a bumper crop every year.  His paleo diet 'failings' are in that he eats fast food on occasion and loves the daylights out of soda.  Those little items add a little soft tissue around the underlying muscle, but for a guy with some years under his belt he's doing fairly well.  I'd have to credit his physical shape to the percentage of wild game and fish that he consumes.

    The benefits of the paleolithic diet are many fold and are based on anthropological studies of early human remains.  It appears that our great-great-great (many greats) grand-cestors lived a fairly long life, assuming of course they stayed out of the way of charging mammoths and stampeding buffalo herds (OK, getting through infancy and/or infection was important too.  Being fair here).  Dread diseases like cancer and diabetes were basically unknown to our prehistoric forebears.  Even today, people living in tribal cultures with diets consisting of hunter/gatherer type foods experience very low (statistically marginal) occurrences of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and depression.

    The real trick in all of this is, of course, making the switch in our own eating and sticking with the change long enough to experience any meaningful physiological changes.  Too many people give something like the paleolithic diet (or any 'healthy' eating regimen) a brief trial run before abandoning it for what's simple, comfortable, or convenient.  As with anything, the ability to stick to the program over the long term is paramount to success.

    So, all of this came back to mind yesterday as I was butchering the deer my wife shot last week.  The food I was preparing at that moment is exactly the kind of food our forebears consumed - the kind of food that kept them practically disease free.  My wife has a few more hunting trips planned in the next couple of weeks, so there's a possibility that there will be more deer in our future.  In the spring, we'll have to make it a priority to do a bit more fishing than was done last spring - I'm SURE my children won't argue with that!  Perhaps I'm a bit too much of a modern guy to go all-out paleo - I do like my Monster Milk shakes, after all - but I can see the benefit of removing refined grains and sugars from my diet.  Maybe I'll even try to cut back on the skim milk.  A journey of a thousand miles, after all.

    Be well!

    For more information on eating well, check out my Eating for Fat Reduction article.
    For more information on the Paleolithic Diet, take a look at Dr. Ben Balzer's site.

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    Reader Comments (3)

    "Convenience" is a HUGE problem...I don't know if there's been a time where we haven't made the Nags Head to Tarboro trip without stopping at Wendy's/Mc'D's, etc. Working at the "neighborhood" 5 days a week is an exercise in futility, and the 11:30 pm trip to Harris Teeter Saturday night to get "nacho fixuns" landed enough sodium in my blood stream to last three days. However, with what Jennifer and I are lining up to do, we're going to be eating very similar to what the Paleo Diet calls for.

    It's not easy to maintain the kind of discipline needed to follow any eating regimen, but as with anything beneficial to you, discipline is a key part of it. And hey...nothing like a delicious piece of grilled fish and a load of spinach!

    December 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterM. Price

    Thanks for the comment, M.

    I have to admit that many are the times that we've abandoned any semblance of "healthy" eating by running to Taco Bell because there weren't enough minutes between work and night classes. The diet, however, looks quite similar to what I eat in order to drop some fat. I do have a penchant for dairy - I like cheeses and skim milk - and those are totally out of sync with a paleo diet. I think I could seriously up my intake of fruits and veggies, but then that describes just about everyone in the United States.

    I think the diet is worth taking seriously for a while, but I'm going to have to do some pretty keen planning in order to pull it off - and I'm not sure Alice is quite on board with the idea yet. When I give it a run, I'll post back and share how things are going.

    Be well!

    December 8, 2009 | Registered CommenterKeith

    Nice post, thanks for sharing this wonderful and useful information with us.

    Green Tea Diet

    January 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Tea Benefits

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