Should you eat like a caveman?
One of the more recent food plans making the media circuit is called the Paleo Diet. It’s based on the idea that foods available in the Paleolithic Era are better for us, even today. The concept is that human beings evolved to eat the foods naturally available before the development of agriculture and animal husbandry.
What this means in practical terms is that foods such as meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, vegetables, roots, fruit, berries, mushrooms, etc. are acceptable foods to choose from. Unacceptable foods include grains, beans, legumes, potatoes, sugar and of course, anything that’s manufactured, processed or artificial.
There’s a lot to like about this approach to eating. And there are many variations on the theme in the form of different perspectives on the idea. I counted at least 20 variations in my research.
One thing I particularly like is that someone following this approach will completely avoid processed foods. If you can’t find it in nature, it doesn’t belong on this diet.
There is even room for individual variation for those following the plan. Each person consumes foods from the acceptable group according to what they want. That’s unique among modern dietary plans.
So far, so good.
There is, however, a point at which this approach becomes hard to follow. That point is in deciding what mix of foods are best for you.
Part of the reason this is difficult is that the idea of eating what our ancestors ate is complicated by the fact that people come from very different genetic backgrounds.
Metabolic Typing® author, Bill Wolcott, points this out reminding us that Eskimos thrived on all protein and fat with almost no carbohydrates, while the Swiss thrived on rye and dairy and the Quetchus in South America lived mostly on carbohydrates and almost no protein and fat.
That’s a pretty wide variation in possible Paleo diets
Yes, they all ate whole natural foods, but the foods available to them was very diverse from one geographic location to another. That fact leads to unique genetically-based needs for foods that differ from one person to another.
And just concentrating on eating whole natural foods won’t work. Without an accurate understanding of which foods are metabolized efficiently, and in what proportions, it’s very possible that the Paleo Diet could create more health issues than it fixes.
The bottom line is that the Paleo Diet is a great idea, just not refined enough to be able to use effectively. The solution to this problem can be found in one of two ways.
The basic approach to this is to pay attention to the signals your body gives you after you eat. A quicker and more complete approach is to do Metabolic Typing®. Feel free to contact me if you’d like more information on this approach.
Bill Wolcott, private communication on the Metabolic Typing® Advisor’s forum.