The paleolithic diet, also known as the Stone Age Diet or Caveman Diet, is simply a return to eating the foods that humans would have consumed before agriculture and farming became common. Also, it emphasizes eating raw foods, as cooking would have been a rarity. It is the oldest known diet to man!
The paleolithic diet is intended to emulate the ancient diet of wild plants and animals that humans consumed up until the end of the stone age, which was about 10,000 years ago.
It is based upon commonly available modern foods, including lean meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts. It mostly excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar and processed oils. Some salt and dairy (fresh goats milk etc.) may have been consumed, but not on a large scale. Although fire was used in cooking it may not have been a daily luxury.
Walter L. Voegtlin
The Paleo Diet was first popularized in the mid 1970s by a gastroenterologist named Walter L. Voegtlin. Building upon the principles of evolutionary medicine, it is based on the premise that modern humans are genetically adapted to the diet of their Paleolithic ancestors and that human genetics have scarcely changed since the dawn of agriculture, and therefore an ideal diet for human health and well-being is one that resembles this ancestral diet.
This dietary approach is a controversial topic among nutritionists and anthropologists. Advocates argue that modern human populations subsisting on traditional diets similar to those of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers are largely free of diseases of affluence, and that such diets produce beneficial health outcomes in controlled medical studies.
Supporters point to several potentially therapeutic nutritional characteristics of pre-agricultural diets. Critics of this nutritional approach have taken issue with its underlying evolutionary logic, and have disputed certain dietary prescriptions on the grounds that they pose health risks and may not reflect the features of ancient Paleolithic diets. It is not a realistic alternative for everyone.
Why is the Palaeolithic Diet The Popular New Approach to Weight Loss?
Since the end of the Paleolithic period, foods that humans would have rarely or never consumed during previous stages of their evolution have been introduced as staples in their diet, namely dairy products, beans, cereals, alcohol, salt and fatty domestic meats.
In the last 150 years agriculture has boomed, with the production of refined cereals, refined sugars and refined vegetable oils, as well as fattier domestic meats, which have become major components of Western diets. These dietary compositional changes have been implicated as risk factors in the many of the “diseases of civilization”, which include obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune-related diseases and cancer. In many ways following a caveman / paleo diet is very much like following a more conventional low GI diet plan.
Healthiest Foods to Eat on the Stone Age, Hunter-Gather Diet
There are too many foods that can be eaten, and that should be avoided, to list here. For a full list of foods you can eat download a Paleo Cookbook. Some of the allowed foods are also super foods, so we shall concentrate on these for now:
- Salmon: Salmon packs a great source of protein coupled with omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is also a good source of vitamins B6 and B12. Choose wild salmon whenever possible.
- Blueberries: A powerhouse of vitamins, antioxidants which neutralize cell damage that can lead to heart disease and cancer.
- Kale: One of the best leafy greens. It is proven at fighting cancer and detoxifying. Kale provides a good source of Vitamin A and beta carotene; both essential for eye health and to prevent degenerative macular conditions like glaucoma. Kale contains 88% of the RDA of Vitamin C.
- Apples: Healthy, high in fiber. The sweetness of an apple is due to fructose, a slow-digesting sugar that won’t spike your blood sugar. Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar and can control appetite better than other fruits. Apples are one of the foods we strongly recommend you purchase organic, and be sure to eat the peel.
- Grass Fed Beef: Organic grass-fed beef makes our list of the ten healthiest palaeolithic foods. The beef produced from grass-fed cattle is lean and comparable to the wild meats in a classic cave man diet. Grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 essential fatty acids and beta carotene.
- Almonds: High in monounsaturated fats, decrease cholesterol levels and aid in preventing heart disease. Eaten with a meal decrease the post meal blood sugar spike.
- Beets: Red color gives them cancer-fighting properties. They lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease. Also full of antioxidants.
- Avocado: Source of potassium and folate, lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. They also help you absorb more of the fat-soluble vitamins from the other vegetables.
- Garlic: Great for your heart and reduces blood pressure. High in vitamin C, B6, selenium, and manganese. Choose fresh garlic over powders or even garlic sold pre-chopped in jars.
- Carrots Cheap, versatile, full of vitamins and nutrients. One of the richest natural sources of carotenoids, have been linked to the prevention and fighting of several common types of cancer. Can be enjoyed raw or cooked.
So, time to act more like a cave man (or cave woman) and less like a junkie. Eating a natural diet like this will strengthen your immune system as well as your body. Bone strength and density is related to diet, as is a healthy cardiovascular system. If you want to be strong like a caveman, then eat like Captain Caveman!
“A paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease” by Tommy Jönsson, Yvonne Granfeldt, Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, Bo Ahrén and Staffan Lindeberg. NUTRITION & METABOLISM, Volume 7, Number 1, 85, DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-85
“A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease” by S. Lindeberg, T. Jönsson, Y. Granfeldt, E. Borgstrand, J. Soffman, K. Sjöström and B. Ahrén. Diabetologia. 2007 Sep;50(9):1795-807. Epub 2007 Jun 22.