Should You Eat Like a Caveman?

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Filed Under: General Health, Diet
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Should You Eat Like a Caveman?

You may have heard of the "paleo diet," which refers to the diet of the cavemen era when individuals were hunter-gatherers instead of farmers. Currently there’s a growing segment of the population that has started eliminating almost all grains and grain products from their diet. Eliminating grains is based on the idea that our ancestors never ate these foods and our bodies are not equipped to deal with them properly. 

Personally, I think the idea has a lot of merit, and I’ve modified many of my own eating habits. It’s not perfect; there are lots of good and beneficial foods that wouldn’t be considered paleo—for example, butter, yogurt and kefir, and sauerkraut. But it is a good starting point.

Research and clinical work shows that a lot of the food intolerance problems, gastrointestinal symptoms, high triglyceride and blood abnormalities, gluten sensitivity, food and pollen allergies, gut permeability issues, autoimmune and systemic inflammatory diseases, etc., can be resolved by eliminating cereal/grains (especially wheat, barley, and rye), corn and rice, most dairy products, and legumes (including peanuts and soy) from the diet.

Substituting a paleo diet consisting of meat, fowl, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, berries, avocados, olives, certain oils (olive, avocado, palm, coconut), and fresh fruits and vegetables often resolves the above problems. At the same time grain products were increasing dramatically in the diet, the public was being steered away from meat, eggs, and some seafood based on the idea that they raised cholesterol levels and contributed to cardiovascular disease—an idea that has since been proven false.

Grains are not part of the paleo diet and, if you look at history, when humans switched from being hunter-gatherers to farmers, overall health declined. But when you look at obesity, it wasn’t so much of a problem until the 20th century when refined grains were introduced into the diet. We know that refined grains have a higher glycemic index (closer to sugar) and contribute to obesity. 

Adopting a more paleo diet and moving away from refined grain products is another way of reducing refined carbohydrates in your diet. Research continues to confirm that our primitive bodies actually function better when more of a caveman-type diet is followed. I’m not suggesting that you resort to field dressing your neighbor’s pet, but the overall health benefits of including wild, organic meats in your diet shouldn’t be overlooked.

Again, the problem stems from including large amounts of processed foods that historically were never a large part of the human diet. Genetically we aren’t geared to handle them.

From a dietary perspective, the more your diet consists of natural, whole, unprocessed foods, the better your overall health will be.

Now it's your turn: Do you practice a paleo-type diet, where you have eliminated most grains?

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