How the Paleo Diet Can Impact Your Overall Health

How the Paleo Diet Can Impact Your Overall Health

Highly processed food products have been a major part of the modern western diet for decades, and in that time, the obesity rate and incidence of chronic illness have skyrocketed. The paleo diet, a plan that includes the kinds of food people ate prior to the agricultural revolution, aims to promote weight loss and restore optimal health by limiting or excluding any food that wasn’t readily available 10,000 years ago.

The main idea behind the paleo diet, also known as the caveman or Stone Age diet, is that eating like your hunter-gatherer ancestors is more aligned with your genetics (and therefore better for your health) than the modern diet.

With the advent of farming, people began producing dairy, grain, and legume products, all of which became major dietary staples the world over. The paleo diet theorizes that this major dietary change came late — and developed rapidly — in human history, basically outpacing the body’s ability to adapt.

This mismatch between the modern diet and the body’s genetic disposition is believed to be an underlying factor in a variety of today’s common health problems, ranging from obesity to Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, allergies, and heart disease.

Let’s explore the ins and outs of the paleo diet and how it can impact your health.

Paleo diet basics

The paleo diet is centered on the kinds of foods your prehistoric ancestors could hunt, fish, or gather. This includes lean meats, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds, plant-based oils, nonstarchy vegetables, and fresh fruits.

Depending on which version of the diet you follow (entry, maintenance, or maximal level), you may be required to strictly limit or completely eliminate grain and dairy products, legumes and starchy vegetables, high-fat meat products, all forms of sugar (including honey), and highly processed food products.

A typical paleo-style breakfast may be comprised of broiled salmon and sliced melon, while a typical afternoon or evening meal may include a lean chicken breast with salad greens, tomatoes, and carrots dressed in olive oil.  

The paleo diet also recommends drinking plenty of water and staying active throughout the day.

Potential health benefits

Besides being low in simple carbohydrates, sugar, and sodium, the paleo diet also tends to be high in potassium, iron, and antioxidants. Many of the foods it emphasizes, including leafy greens, berries, avocado, nuts, and fatty fish are anti-inflammatory, meaning they help protect against the development of major illnesses like cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and depression.  

Rich in protein, fat, and dietary fiber, the paleo diet is also highly satiating — most people who follow the plan feel fuller on fewer calories, making it that much easier to lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy body weight.

When compared to other popular plans like the Mediterranean diet, research shows that the paleo diet may promote more weight loss and better appetite management. The paleo diet has also been shown to help:

Because it discourages processed foods, the diet is inherently “clean,” or free of added flavors, colorings, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients. It also emphasizes local, sustainable, organic and nonGMO foods, as well as grass-fed meat or wild game.

Your personal paleo plan

By focusing on vegetables, nuts, fruits, fatty fish, and lean cuts of meat while simultaneously cutting out highly processed food products, there’s no question that the paleo diet is far healthier than the standard western diet.

To achieve optimal health benefits, it’s important to choose your protein sources carefully (think quality and variety over quantity) and strive for a balanced plate with every meal.

If you’re an athlete, you may need to incorporate some whole grains to get enough carbohydrates to support your level of activity. If you’re a vegetarian, you may need to incorporate legumes to get an adequate amount of protein.

Whether you’re interested in losing weight, protecting your long-term health, or both, the team at Family Practice Associates, PC can help you understand the paleo diet and customize the plan to meet your individual needs. To learn more, call our office in Broomfield, Colorado, today or use our easy online tool to schedule a consultation with Dr. Abrams any time.

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