Paleo was a dietary preference that developed in the 1980s and 1990s that emphasized avoiding processed foods and junk food and increasing the consumption of healthy fats. At first, it was embraced by a broad range of people and embraced as a way to maintain good health, but recently it has become an important and controversial nutritional perspective.
Most people who adopt the Paleo diet are doing so because they want to lose weight, or simply want to eat the way they used to when they were younger. For others, it is an opportunity to improve their health or prevent diseases. So, what exactly is the Paleo diet?
In its most basic form, the Paleo diet is simply a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and animal protein. It is a diet where all the elements of a normal diet are present but with some of the nutrients removed.
The processed foods of the past included flour, sugar, and preservatives, but it was only necessary to have some of these things in order to provide essential nutrients. With the Paleo diet, the lack of refined carbohydrates makes it possible to eat many more different types of food, which is critical for healthy eating. The lack of artificial ingredients also creates a healthy alternative to non-organic foods.
Because the diet is high in natural foods, the person is less likely to be dependent on processed foods for energy. This is often referred to as being “calorie conscious.” In this sense, the diet does away with the idea of eating to satiate hunger, but rather eating to increase the health of the body.
Because foods that are high in protein, such as meats, are removed from the diet, the body can continue to make amino acids, which is important for the proper functioning of the immune system. Similarly, the removal of grains (especially white wheat) allows the body to produce and use a great deal of soluble fiber, which helps maintain normal digestion. The Paleo diet also eliminates wheat, barley, rye, and oats, since these are all products of “junk food” production.
Meat is another feature removed from the diet. It has been shown that a high intake of red meat can lead to a host of diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Processed meats are also unhealthy, as they tend to add chemicals and coloring to the food.
A high level of saturated fat, such as in red meat, is also part of the Paleo diet. Saturated fat can come from partially hydrogenated oils, which most margarine and spreads contain. Even foods that are traditionally thought of as healthy, such as eggs, are removed from the diet.
The Paleo diet also places a lot of emphasis on the role of micronutrients. These are vital nutrients that cannot be found in fruits and vegetables but must be obtained through food. Examples of micronutrients are zinc, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
The idea of not eating meat or dairy products makes it difficult to have a well-balanced diet. This can be overcome by eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and by adding some foods that contain some level of meat or dairy.
By making the decision to eliminate refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods from the diet, the benefits of the Paleo diet is that it supports a high level of physical well-being. Its purpose is to help the body build new cells, detoxify, and promote overall health.