During the Paleolithic era, the meal ideas of our ancestors revolved around natural foods only. These healthy, untreated foods were taken solely from nature and abounded in a fresh supply of meats, vegetables, fruits and a variety of nuts and seeds (complete paleo diet food list / Infographic). As a result, the population consuming these foods while staying actively healthy did not have any serious health concerns as we do today and led a vigorous lifestyle.
In contrast, the staple diet of today has largely replaced these perfect foods and substituted them with a collection of highly refined and processed foods. Popular contemporary diet choices have loads of refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup embodied in an endless supply of cereals, breads, pastas, starchy tubers and pasteurized milk products. The selection of natural foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds has been narrowed minimally while many of these have been relegated to the status of mere snacks.
And while we may have evolved phenomenally in other spheres of life, our health and well being seemed to have been compromised greatly based on our dietary behavior and choices. The humans of today are faring far worse than their Paleolithic ancestors in terms of chronic diseases and debilitating health conditions.
While the paleo diet promotes a protein and fat based diet regimen, the basis of our contemporary foods is carbohydrates. Standing in stark contrast, the two dieting plans offer a completely different set of results in improving or deteriorating the health options of individuals. While following the standard modern diet, individuals suffer from a very obvious carb overload that leads to a host of health concerns. The foods on the paleo menu, on the other hand all offer health benefits that lead to general well being of the dieters. Because these foods have been chosen from a group of completely unprocessed, unrefined and untreated options, there is no concern for artificial preservatives, additives, flavorings or stimulants.
The foods in the paleo group become medicinal in nature as their consumption leads to improving overall health, building muscles and bone as well as providing a host of useful vitamins and minerals that enhance the immune system of individuals to ward off diseases successfully. The bulk of the diet is formed around the protein group of foods that include meats, eggs, fish and other seafood. As is common knowledge, protein is needed for muscle buildup and repair of damaged tissue. In energizes limbs and carries energy to all parts of the body for optimal performance. In order to carry out the normal functioning of the various body systems, protein along with its building blocks of amino acids is needed in adequate amounts for a fit lifestyle.
Likewise, fat also makes up for an essential part of our diet as it provides energy as well as helps metabolic action in the body. The paleo diet relies heavily on healthy sources of fats and looks to sources like olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds as well as various animal fats to do the job right.
And while protein and fats are doing their part in keeping the body strong, fit and performing well, the minerals and vitamins found in fresh fruits and vegetables cater to the immune boosting properties of the human body. Carrying lots of antioxidants, fruits and vegetables are the finest sources of any preventive medication, if any that are found in nature.
And while the inclusion of good foods on the paleo diet keep the body in good working condition, the exclusion of bad foods is equally important. By not eating overly processed carbs, the body is spared many health problems that are common in many of our society members. Carbohydrates are associated with many of our common ailments like diabetes, inflammation, blood pressure, coronary issues and even cancer.
Carbohydrates are also undoubtedly the main contributing factor behind weight gain and obesity. So for those individuals who wish to lose weight or maintain their current weight, the paleo diet offers a positive, beneficial dietary option. The exclusion of bad carbs found in processed foods and the inclusion of good carbs through natural sources like fruits and vegetables is a natural deterrent to excess weight gain and other weight related issues.
But just as refined sugars are the leading cause of so many health disorders, the other white stuff is also equally guilty. Salt and its overconsumption is also the precursor of many health problems. Instead of including generous quantities in paleo cooking, salt is one of the ingredients whose abstention is preached in paleo philosophy. By eliminating or strictly restricting the amount of salt used in food, paleo cooking offers a better alternative than traditional cooking methods.
Other than salt, grains and legumes are also forbidden on the paleo diet. Grains and their various components are common allergens and by removing them from the diet, food choices become naturally gluten and casein free. While gluten comes from grains, casein comes from dairy. Although both are proteins, not all proteins are created alike. Milk and wheat happen to be two of the leading top eight allergens and are not permitted on the paleo diet. The absence of allergen triggers also makes the paleo diet more potent for optimal health.
Because paleo followers depend on a diet that is rich in fiber and protein, it keeps them feeling full longer. The satiety levels of a paleo meal plan are long term as both protein and fiber take longer to breakdown and digest than refined carbs. While filling on refined foods the digestion is easier and the body once again craves for more food resulting in overeating. But with protein and fiber in the stomach, the digestive system is kept busier longer with no recurrent urges to eat again.
The final food that deserves mention on the paleo plan is drinking plenty of water. Once again, a natural hydrator, water is the best beverage on the list with no calories but lots of health benefits to offer.