By Ed Shepherd CHC, CPT
The Paleolithic diet, also known as Paleo or Primal diet, is rooted in the belief that sticking to food our caveman ancestors would have eaten leads to optimal health. This includes meat, fish, vegetables, wild fruits, eggs, nuts, and more. The goal of the Paleo approach is to consume the foods cavemen did millions of years ago, before the cultivation of grains and legumes, and well before the invention of processed, packaged foods. According to Paleo advocates, if a caveman wouldn’t eat it, modern people shouldn’t either.
Guidelines include eating a relatively high amount of healthy fat such as coconut oil, avocado, ghee, and olives. Vegetables, raw or cooked, are the primary source of carbohydrates, rendering the diet relatively low-carb. Animal protein, including its naturally occurring fat, should be included in the diet. Red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, and organ meat are all encouraged. Some followers of this approach choose to emphasize vegetables and minimize meat; however, all devotees put a high premium on organic and grass-fed meats. Although included, fruits are limited since cavemen encountered these “treats” infrequently.
It’s also strongly encouraged to follow a vigorous exercise regimen such as crossfit. It’s recommended that participants only eat when they’re truly hungry and ensure they get plenty of vitamin D from the sun.
The Pegan Diet
Coined by Mark Hyman, MD, the Pegan Diet combines the vegan and paleo diets.It’s primarily plant based with small amounts of grass-fed, organic meat, poultry, fish, and eggs included.
On this plan, vegetables and fruits are the centerpiece and animal foods act as more of a side dish or even garnish. This is said to greatly increase the likelihood of meeting nutritional needs and mitigating inflammation and illness.
The consumption of plants as primary and meat as secondary is said to support natural, gentle cleansing, assure consumption of nutrient dense foods, be better for the environment, provide a wide range of antioxidants, and be less expensive.
The Pegan approach is believed to aid weight loss, fight chronic disease, improve skin health, improve digestion and gut health, and provide an exciting and varied diet by integrating two popular dietary schools of thought.
Foods to include:
- Healthy fats
Foods to avoid:
- Wheat, rye, barley, oats, brown rice
- Dairy, except for ghee and grass-fed butter
- Processed foods
- Artificially low-fat foods
- Fruit juices
- Whole foods approach
- Encourages organic foods
- Low in sodium and high in potassium
- High in fiber
- Healthy fats contribute to optimal brain function
- Low glycemic load may stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings and binges
- High-quality meats may be expensive and difficult to obtain
- Some may do well on carbs
- Not ideal for vegetarians and vegans
Staffan Lindeberg’s Food and Western Disease: Health and Nutrition from an Evolutionary PerspectivePaleo 101 www.paleodietlifestyle.com The Paleo Diet www.thepaleodiet.com Paleo Diet www.health.usnews.com